Dutch biotech startup Micreos secures €32M as it plans to replace antibiotics; here’s how

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Netherlands-based biotechnology company Micreos announced that it has raised €32M in a fresh round of funding.

The company had raised €30M in March 2019 and, also in the same year, was awarded the highest possible sum of €2.5M under the EU’s SME-innovation program Horizon 2020.

Horizon 2020 was an EU initiative to stimulate research and innovation and support business ideas that had a high chance of success to improve the social wellbeing and global competitiveness of the EU and its citizens. Of the almost 2000 proposals submitted, only approximately 4 per cent were awarded.

Capital utilisation

The proceeds from this round will help the company to further develop its endolysin platform technology, based on the targeted killing of only unwanted bacteria.

The funds will also help Micreos accelerate its clinical development programs for atopic dermatitis, diabetic (MRSA-) wounds and bloodstream infections, based on its pharmaceutical lead compounds, XZ.700 and SP.800.

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Targeted control of bacteria

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the emergence of antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ is now a global concern that can spell the end of modern medicine and a return to the days when routine operations, simple wounds, or straightforward infections were potentially life-threatening.

On the other hand, scientists have also realised that the majority of bacteria is beneficial and should be left intact. Antibiotics do not distinguish between bad and good bacteria and their use can lead to side effects and resistance.

Micreos develops new biological therapies based on the targeted killing of only unwanted bacteria, and are set to replace antibiotics in a wide range of applications. Founded in 2006 by Hans-Poul Veldhuyzen van Zanten and Mark Offerhaus, the company claims to be a global leader in this field. 

Its proprietary endolysin technology has been created together with the Swiss Federal Technology Institute, ETH Zurich. Micreos runs its technology centre in Zurich, with operations in the Netherlands and the USA. 

Under the Gladskin brand, Micreos has launched several endolysin-based OTC products for people with inflammatory skin conditions caused or aggravated by S. aureus bacteria, including acne, eczema and rosacea, and helped hundreds of thousands of people.

Endolysins as precision anti-bacterials

In its search for solutions, Micreos’ researchers turned to nature’s own precision anti-bacterials, named endolysins. Unlike antibiotics, these highly specific enzymes have the ability to target only unwanted bacteria, while preserving the microbiome comprising billions of ‘good’ bacteria, essential for our health. 

According to the company, Endolysins are safe and environmentally friendly. Because of their working mechanism, the development of resistance is not expected.

Addressing unmet medical needs 

XZ.700 targets Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), including the antibiotic-resistant MRSA, while preserving Staphylococcus epidermidis, considered to be beneficial on the skin and conducive to wound healing. SP.800 targets all staphylococcal species.

Mark Offerhaus, founder & CEO of Micreos says, “We’re beginning to appreciate that the importance of biodiversity extends beyond the rainforest, right up to our very own bodies and wellbeing. Clinical studies demonstrate the interplay between the commensal microbiota on and inside our bodies, and our immune system, as demonstrated by the emergence and increase of many chronic diseases and even certain forms of cancer. This new paradigm requires a new approach, which we have embraced as our mission.”

Micreos has also developed FDA-approved food safety products – ‘Phageguard S’ against Salmonella and ‘Phageguard L’ against Listeria monocytogenes, which is especially dangerous for pregnant women and for the elderly and the immuno-compromised.

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Vishal Singh

Vishal Singh is a News Reporter and Social Media Marketing Lead at Silicon Canals. He covers developments in the European startup ecosystem and oversees the publication's social media presence. Before joining Silicon Canals, Vishal gained experience at the Indian digital media outlet Inc42, contributing to its growth with insightful content. Despite being a college dropout, his passion for writing has driven his career in journalism.

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