The funds were generated from a Series B equity financing round and conversion of an earlier convertible note, with participation from investors including Artis Ventures, Tencent Holdings, Viking Global Investors, Johnson and Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc. and Discovery Innovations.
Proceeds will support product development and expansion of in-house cGMP manufacturing capabilities.
Locus is developing two categories of biotherapeutics to address unmet medical needs: precision CRISPR-enhanced bacteriophage (crPhage) products to fight deadly infections, including those caused by multi-drug resistant bacteria; and engineered bacteriophage therapies that utilize bacteria resident in specific locations in the body to deliver therapeutic molecules.
The company anticipates initiating a Phase 2/3 trial of its lead product, LBP-EC01, for the treatment of UTIs caused by E. coli bacteria by mid-2022.
In 2021, Locus completed a Phase 1b clinical trial of LBP-EC01. The trial, which was the world’s first randomized, placebo-controlled trial of recombinant bacteriophage therapy, met all primary and secondary endpoints and supported advancement of the product into the later stage study.
An analysis of the global burden of bacterial antimicrobial resistance (AMR) published in The Lancet in January 2022 found there were almost 5 million estimated deaths associated with bacterial AMR in 2019, an annual death toll similar in magnitude to that of the COVID-19 pandemic, underscoring the urgent need for new treatments, noted Locus.
It noted that it is developing products targeting four of the six leading pathogens associated with AMR-related mortality in the analysis.
The latest funding will also enable further business development, and expansion of the company’s preclinical programs focused on developing engineered bacteriophage therapies that utilize bacteria resident in the body to deliver therapeutic molecules for microbiome-associated diseases, as well as in-house manufacturing capability to support oral solid dose delivery of its products, it said.
Locus launched a vertically integrated, commercial-scale cGMP manufacturing facility in 2020, and said it is cash-flow positive thanks to revenue-generating partnerships with BARDA, CARB-X and Janssen.