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Cempra Pharmaceuticals Inc.

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

Formed around a library of macrolide analogs licensed from Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Cempra Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s original intent was to build an improved version of Ketek, the ketolide antibiotic telithromycin that caused liver toxicity problems after its 2004 US launch. Cempra says its lead candidate CEM-101 is two-to-four times more potent than telithromycin. In addition to an oral form, Cempra is also developing an intravenous version that could be used to treat serious infections in the hospital.

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Antibiotic-focused biotech can earn $58 million over five years under the government contract, which provides for testing of the novel macrolide in pediatric indications and for protection against bioterror-threat pathogens.

Start-Up Previews (05/2010)

A preview of the emerging health care companies profiled in the current issue of Start-Up. "As Drug-Resistant Microbes Rise, Antibiotic Start-Ups Need Savvy Investors," features profiles of Cempra Pharmaceuticals, DesignMedix, Kenta Biotech and MGB Biopharmaceuticals. Plus these Start-Ups Across Health Care: CardioPhotonics, Eureka Genomics, Invuity and OrthoSensor.

MGB Biopharma Ltd.

MGB Biopharma Ltd. believes it may be able to create compounds that directly kill bacteria before they ever have a chance to mutate. Its plan is to develop chemicals that bind to bacterial DNA and stop transcription of key genes. Indeed, the fi rst three letters of the company’s name stand for minor groove binders, because this is the class of drug that management aspires to develop as antibacterials.

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