GLEN ALLEN, VA – AmpliPhi BioSciences Corp. said this week that it has entered into a definitive stock purchase agreement with about 12 institutional investors and several high net worth individuals.
AmpliPhi is working on ways to use biophage viruses, which naturally attack bacteria but are harmless to their human hosts, to kill drug-resistant microbe strains that cause about 2 million infections annually in the United States.
“The impetus for why we believe this is so important right now is that we see in the media almost daily the threat of antibiotic resistance,” said Baxter Phillips III, the company’s vice president for corporate strategy and business development. “Many bacteria now have multiple strains that are resistant to some of the most common antibiotics that are out there.”
For instance, one of AmpliPhi’s current research programs involves using bacteriophages to target Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a drug-resistant microbe commonly known as MRSA. Another research program seeks to use bacteriophages to fight a type of bacterial infection that affects cystic fibrosis patients. The company thinks that bacteriophages, unlike antibiotics, will be unaffected by bacterial resistance.
Human clinical trials have not started yet, but the company is planning to seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration for further research next year. While it could be years before a product is commercialized, Phillips said the company thinks it is currently the world leader in therapeutic bacteriophage research.
In June, AmpliPhi completed a $7 million private stock sale that included investments from Boston-based RA Capital Management and Radford-based Third Security LLC, an investment firm managed by biotech entrepreneur Randal J. Kirk.
AmpliPhi’s stock trades over the counter, but three large institutional investors own about 60 percent of the company’s stock. Those institutional shareholders are RA Capital, Pendinas Limited and Third Security. Under the new stock sales, the company is issuing an aggregate of just more than 72 million shares of common stock at 25 cents per share. The company has not yet disclosed the latest investors, but Phillips said they include “both current investors in the company as well as new investors who are very well-respected and well-established in the biotechnology investment community.”
AmpliPhi had about $4.85 million of cash on hand at the end of September, he said. With the new stock placement, it will have about $20 million in cash to fund its research and operations through mid-2015.