1. YOUR PITCH.
Antibiotic-resistance superbugs are a growing problem in today’s hospitals and communities around the globe despite nearly $26 billion spent on therapeutics. In the US alone direct costs of infection are estimated at $28-34B (2007 USD). The outbreak of Staph infections at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in early April 2009 exemplifies the looming problems infectious disease doctors face. Treating challenging bacterial infections is becoming increasingly difficult, in part, because of many years of under-investment in new therapeutic strategies.
Novophage Therapeutics has supercharged nature’s bacteria-fighting agents to combat these challenging infections by harnessing advances from the genomics revolution, from molecular cloning, and from biologics process manufacturing. Bacteriophages are viruses that have evolved to infect harmful bacteria. We are designing bacteriophages that, when used in combination with antibiotics, are more efficacious than antibiotics alone in three ways:
1) killing more harmful bacteria due to production of additional antimicrobial agents;
2) decreasing the rate of antibiotic resistance by disrupting resistance mechanisms inside the bacteria;
3) degrading bacterial biofilms by production of biofilm-degrading enzymes.
Novophage’s enhanced bacteriphages in combination with antibiotics have been shown to be more efficacious in animal models compared to antibiotics alone with no observed toxicity issues (published Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).
Our team developed the technology in the nation’s leading laboratories at MIT, Harvard Medical School, and Boston University. Novophage will commercialize an antibiotic adjuvant that is used in combination with current antibiotic standard of care to help infectious disease clinicians eliminate the most challenging infections in patients.
2. IDEA: WHAT SPARKED THE IDEA FOR YOUR BUSINESS PLAN?
The idea for our business plan was sparked when we observed significant numbers of terrible infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria while we were working in Boston-area hospitals.
3. TARGET MARKET: WHO ARE YOU TARGETING? WHY?
The addressable market includes all patients with bacterial infections. Our initial entry therapeutic indication is complicated skin and skin structure infections (cSSSI) with Staph aureus as the primarily pathogen. One out of every 4 patients presenting with CSSI has a MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staph aureus) infection.
4. CHALLENGES: WHAT DO YOU FORESEE AS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OR IMPEDIMENT IN REACHING COMMERCIAL VIABILITY/SUCCESS?
Our biggest challenge lies in the regulatory approval process for our products. Previous products in food safety have helped pave the regulatory pathway, but we must continue to produce data illustrating the safety and efficacy of Novophage’s treatments for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
5. FUNDING: IF YOUR TEAM WERE TO RECEIVE $100,000 IN FUNDING FOR YOUR BUSINESS TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH IT? WHAT IS THE MOST CRITICAL INVESTMENT YOU NEED TO MAKE IN ORDER TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS?
We will use the money to continue translating our proof-of-concept technologies into a first clinical product and to subsequently test the safety and efficacy of the product. We will then use these results to seek further funding and to attract additionally experienced people to our team.
Novophage is composed of experienced scientists who originally developed the core technology. For example, one of our co-founders won the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize and the National Hall of Fame’s Collegiate Inventors Competition for his inventions on which Novophage is based. Our scientists have worked closely with each other for over 5 years. Furthermore, our team members have experience in entrepreneurship, in strategy consulting and in operations, including prior experiences at McKinsey, Highland Capital Partners, and 3M Pharmaceuticals. We have sought to strengthen our core competencies in science and business by seeking external advisors at senior levels.