Lodo Therapeutics closed its latest $17 million funding round with checks in hand from the likes of AbbVie, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer Venture Investments and the Gates Foundation. That’s a lot of financial faith in a novel therapeutics venture based on the “vision and research” of one man—Sean Brady. Brady is the head of Rockefeller University's Laboratory of Genetically Encoded Small Molecules.
Without getting too deep—and consequently lost—in the science here, Brady’s research focuses on “discovery, biosynthesis and characterization of new, genetically encoded small molecules from microbial sources, with a special focus on those produced by uncultured soil bacteria and the human microbiome.” According to Brady, over 50 percent of the “all small molecule drugs for cancer, infections, and type 2 diabetes today are derived from natural products.”
Here’s the hook: these new, naturally sourced therapies are looking like a treatment treasure trove for emerging bacteria and drug resistant bacteria on a global scale. And multi-drug resistance is a major obstacle in the treatment of global disease scourges such as tuberculosis and MRSA.
Trevor Mundel, president of global health at the Gates Foundation touched on the problem, saying tuberculosis is the leading cause of preventable death in least developed countries, “yet current drug regimens are lengthy, expensive and often ineffective.” Mundel added that Gates is “thrilled to partner with Lodo Therapeutics to support the development of novel technologies to find new and better drugs to treat tuberculosis and combat the problem of drug resistant infectious disease more generally.”
Gates is perhaps the backer with the biggest stake in Lodo’s success in terms of dollars spent versus lives saved. The foundation been combating preventable diseases like TB, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases for years. Other organizations that participated in Lodo’s latest funding round also have skin in the game besides the money they put up. AbbVie’s charitable arm gives heavily to HIV/AIDS and neglected disease projects, as do the charitable arms of Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Eli Lilly.