Funding will advance discovery of novel anti-infectives addressing antimicrobial resistance
ArrePath, a drug discovery spinout founded by Zemer Gitai, the Edwin Grant Conklin Professor of Biology and professor of molecular biology, has announced a seed round of $20 million to advance its proprietary, machine learning-based platform for discovering new classes of anti-infectives. The startup is addressing the global need for new antibiotics that more effectively treat drug-resistant infections and overcome antimicrobial resistance.
“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest threats of our times. I am thrilled that ArrePath will help address this impending crisis by innovating the process of antibiotic drug discovery with novel technologies, insightful company leadership (President and CEO Lloyd Payne, DPhil, and Vice President, Technology and Data Science, Kurt Thorn, PhD,) and forward-looking investors,” said Gitai. The Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, Insight Partners and Innospark Ventures co-led the seed round. Viva BioInnovator, Arimed Capital, PTX Capital and Nor’easter Ventures also participated in the financing.
Gitai and a team of colleagues published findings in Cell in 2020 identifying a compound SCH-79797 that kills both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria through two independent mechanisms, and a derivative compound named Irresistin-16 that is nearly 1,000 times more potent against bacteria than human cells, providing a platform for developing future antibiotics.
“ArrePath's vision also greatly benefited from the fantastic intellectual and entrepreneurial environment of Princeton University, including programs like the IP Accelerator Fund that helped translate basic science findings from my lab towards cutting-edge industrial applications,” said Gitai. In 2021, Princeton’s Dean for Research Intellectual Property Accelerator Fund helped support his research on Irresistin-16’s superiority to existing antibiotics against multi-drug resistant strains, and to screen additional compounds.
Gitai serves as the chair of the company’s science advisory board. Barbara E. Englehardt, professor of computational biology in the Department of Computer Science at Princeton serves on ArrePath’s Scientific Advisory Board, and Gary Laevsky, director of Princeton’s Confocal Imaging Facility, also acts as an advisor to the company.
“Professor Gitai’s research has great potential to transform anti-infective discovery and deliver new classes of antibiotics for the treatment of drug resistant infections,” said Dr. Payne. "Princeton is a globally recognized center of excellence for quantitative microbiology which lies at the heart of our technology. We have an excellent relationship with the university, and look forward to continued collaboration as we work together to address the challenge of antimicrobial resistance."
“Princeton is tremendously excited at the launch of ArrePath. The substantial seed funding commitment, in combination with the experienced and capable management team, provides the perfect platform for the company to further develop Professor Gitai’s important technology and discover next-generation anti-infective therapeutics. ArrePath is the latest in a growing portfolio of high potential, well-resourced companies that have emerged out of Princeton research in recent years,” said Tony Williams, new ventures associate in Princeton’s Office of Technology Licensing.
ArrePath is located at Princeton Innovation Center BioLabs, the University’s coworking lab and office space for high-tech startup companies founded by Princeton faculty, students, alumni, and members of the wider New Jersey community.
The research was supported primarily by the National Institutes of Health (DP1AI124669 to ZG, JPS, BPB, JKM) with additional funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF PHY-1734030). Flow cytometry was performed at the Princeton University Flow Cytometry Resource Facility, supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI-CCSG P30CA072720-5921).