Celtic Pharma Holdings Announces Investment In Novacta Biosystems Limited
    By Anna Ohlden | July 6th 2009 09:02 PM | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    ST PETER PORT, Guernsey and LONDON, July 6 /PRNewswire/ --
    - GBP13.1 Million Funding to Drive Novel Antibiotics Platform Addressing Areas
    of Major Unmet Need, Including Hospital Acquired Infections C. Difficile and
    Celtic Pharma Holdings Advisors LLP (CPHA), the advisor to the second Celtic
    Pharma fund, Celtic Pharma Holdings II LP (CP2), today announces its investment
    in a majority shareholding in Novacta Biosystems Limited (Novacta), which is
    developing a portfolio of antibiotics. The total being raised is GBP13.1m
    ($21.6m), payable against pre-agreed milestones. As part of this investment
    certain existing investors are re-investing.
    Novacta is a UK-based company developing novel, naturally-derived products known
    as 'lantibiotics' as potential drugs. Lantibiotics have potent anti-infective
    properties but have historically been underexploited owing to a lack of research
    tools, a challenge that Novacta has successfully addressed through its
    proprietary technology platform. The most advanced programme will enter the
    clinic next year to treat infections caused by Clostridium difficile (C.
    difficile). The Wellcome Trust has provided in the order of GBP4m of
    translational funding to Novacta since 2004 for the development of the platform
    technology and more recently the C. difficile programme.
    New anti-infective drugs are needed to target C. difficile without depleting
    other beneficial bacteria in the gut and preclinical data show that Novacta's
    lead lantibiotics selectively kill C. difficile with less disturbance of normal
    gut bacteria than seen with existing drugs. C. difficile infections (CDIs) are a
    serious problem: the number of cases grew by 22 percent in the UK last year,
    accounting for twice as many deaths as MRSA.
    Novacta's pipeline also includes programmes targeting other areas of unmet
    medical need in bacterial infection. These include novel promising lantibiotic
    candidates in pre-clinical testing for the treatment of Gram-positive infections
    including MRSA and novel broad spectrum bacteriocins for the treatment of both
    Gram-positive and Gram-negative infections.
    Following the completion of the investment, Novacta will appoint Dr. Richard
    Garraway and Dr. Bob Milsted, both partners of CPHA, to its Board of Directors.
    In a further Board change, the Chairman Dr. Andrew Sandham will retire from the
    Board on completion and will be replaced by Dr. Andy Richards. The new directors
    bring significant drug development, financial and corporate development
    experience to Novacta.
    Commenting on the investment, John Mayo, Managing Partner of CP2 said: The
    urgent need for new antibiotics is well known, Novacta represents a real
    opportunity to meet this significant unmet medical need in C. difficile
    infection, MRSA and related Gram-positive infections and Gram-negative
    infections, such as E. coli and Salmonella. Our investment in Novacta fits our
    model of taking a majority position in high quality companies with well
    differentiated technologies and bringing both funding and additional commercial,
    regulatory, drug development and manufacturing experience to increase both the
    probability of success and the value of the products. We are looking forward to
    working with the dynamic management team at Novacta under Tony Sedgwick,
    producing important new antibiotics and a great return for existing Novacta
    shareholders and Celtic Pharma investors alike.
    Stephen Parker, a Partner in CP2 added: This is the second in a series of major
    investments in high-quality UK biotech companies. We were delighted to see the
    announcement from the UK Government this week of the creation of the Innovation
    Investment Fund-of-funds to invest in technology-based businesses and we look
    forward to helping the Government fulfil its ambitions in the UK life science
    sector as we continue to invest. CP2 is currently assessing several further
    opportunities to invest in attractive, high-growth potential UK companies.
    Dr. Tony Sedgwick, Chief Executive Officer of Novacta said: We have worked
    closely with CP2 to consummate this investment, one of the largest in Europe
    this year. We have made great progress with our technology platform and pipeline
    and now have the funds to accelerate development. In particular, access to the
    expertise at CP2 will ensure that we develop drugs to the standards looked for
    by big pharma and maximise their commercial value. I would like to thank Andy
    Sandham for his leadership and wise counsel as our outgoing Chairman and welcome
    Andy Richards to the role. We are also pleased that Richard and Bob are joining
    the Board from CP2.
    Notes to Editors
    About Celtic Pharma Holdings Advisors LLP
    Celtic Pharma Holdings Advisors is a global private equity fund management
    partnership focused on the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Our
    second fund, Celtic Pharma Holdings II LP, invests in companies which own proven
    technology platforms and early clinical development-stage pharmaceutical
    programmes and directs the management of these programmes through their
    development prior to sale at proof of concept with appropriate efficacy and
    safety data (usually at end of Phase II clinical trials).
    CP2 has already attracted investment from sovereign wealth funds, pension funds
    and high net worth individuals from many countries and continues to raise
    further capital. For further information, please visit our website at
    About Novacta Biosystems Limited
    Novacta is a UK-based biotechnology company that specialises in the discovery
    and development of potential treatments for infectious diseases. Novacta's lead
    programmes are centred around a class of small peptide molecules called
    lantibiotics, a drug class that, until now, has been underexploited due to the
    lack of adequate research tools. Novacta's lantibiotic platform has given rise
    to a number of potential drug candidates, including those in the C. difficile
    programme. Other programmes include one targeting methicillin-resistant
    Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection and others targeting Gram-negative
    infections. For further information, please visit our website at
    About Lantibiotics
    Lantibiotics are a naturally occurring class of antibiotic peptide compounds
    found in a large number of bacteria. They take their name from the lanthionine
    amino acids found within their structure ( lanthionine-containing antibiotics).
    Lantibiotics have demonstrated potential to treat infections caused by agents
    such as C. difficile and MRSA. Conventional medicinal chemistry has been unable
    to manipulate the structure of the naturally occurring compounds into the
    optimised forms that have the potential to treat human disease. However,
    Novacta's proprietary technologies allow the structural manipulation and
    optimisation of activity which is necessary to unlock the potential of this
    novel and under-exploited class of compounds.
    Please contact with enquiries: Celtic Pharma Holdings Advisors John Mayo /
    Stephen Parker LLP Tel: +44(20)7291-5456
    Novacta Biosystems Ltd. Georg Buchner VP, Corporate Business Development Tel:
    +44(0)1707-356130 Citigate Dewe Rogerson Limited
    David Dible / Chris Gardner Tel: +44(0)20-7638-9571
    SOURCE: Celtic Pharma Holdings Advisors LLP
    Please contact with enquiries: Celtic Pharma Holdings Advisors, John Mayo /
    Stephen Parker, LLP, Tel: +44(20)7291-5456,; Novacta Biosystems Ltd., Georg Buchner,
    VP, Corporate Business Development, Tel: +44(0)1707-356130,; Citigate Dewe Rogerson Limited, David Dible /
    Chris Gardner, Tel: +44(0)20-7638-9571, /