Macrolide Attracts Funding and Executive Talent

Antibiotic startup Macrolide Pharmaceuticals gets funding from GSK, Novartis and Roche.

New antibiotic developer Macrolide Pharmaceuticals is focused on the development of antibiotics with macrolide structures. Macrolides have been used to treat pneumonia and other bacterial infections for decades; however, bacteria have become resistant to existing macrolides.

The new pharma company has a potential solution to this problem. Using technology developed by Harvard University chemistry professor Andrew Myers for engineering synthetic macrolides, it can produce compounds that treat infections by both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. There are few treatments available today that are effective against the latter.

Myers previously co-founded antibiotics company Tetraphase, which reached a public valuation of more than $1 billion before the failure of a phase III study for its lead candidate.

Despite that history, Macrolide has attracted the attention of big pharma companies. It recently raised $20 million in a Series B funding round, with money coming from the venture arms of GlaxoSmithKline (SR One), Novartis (Novartis Venture Fund), and Roche (Roche Ventures), as well as other smaller investors. The money will be used to complete an IND application for its lead candidate, which targets Gram-negative pathogens. 

Macrolide’s new President and CEO may have helped attract attention. Mahesh Karande comes from Novartis, where he served as a VP and Oncology Business Head in the US, President and Pharma Head for Africa and Egypt, and Head of Strategy and Business Development for Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa. Karande left Novartis in 2017 to take the role of VP and general manager at Intarcia, which he left to join Macrolide.

“This positions Macrolide to further the pioneering work the team has done to date in advancing new macrolide antibiotics with Gram-negative activity,” Karande said in a statement. “We believe that advancing first-in-class antibiotics that are active against lethal multi-drug resistant bacteria opens the door to a new and meaningful way to address the growing public health issue of treatment gaps due to antibiotic resistance.”


Nigel Walker

Mr. Walker is the founder and managing director of That’s Nice LLC, a research-driven marketing agency with 20 years dedicated to life sciences. Nigel harnesses the strategic capabilities of Nice Insight, the research arm of That’s Nice, to help companies communicate science-based visions to grow their businesses. Mr. Walker earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design with honors from London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, England.