Israeli drug discovery firm BiomX has raised funds in a series B round to advance its lead acne and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) drug programmes to the clinic.

The acne programme is set to start clinical trials by the end of this year, while the IBD programme is being planned for next year.

The $32m equity financing was led by OrbiMed, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Takeda Ventures, 8VC, MiraeAsset, Seventure Partners’ Health for Life Capital I, SBI Japan-Israel Innovation Fund as well as additional European investors.

In addition, the round was joined by RM Global Partners (RMGP) BioPharma Investment Fund, along with Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceutical, Handok, KB Investment and Consensus Business Group.

BiomX CEO Jonathan Solomon said: “The new funding will enable us to transition BiomX to a clinical stage company as our lead programmes in acne and IBD, both novel phage therapeutics targeting harmful bacteria in the microbiome, enter the clinic.

“The new funding will enable us to transition BiomX to a clinical stage company as our lead programmes in acne and IBD.”

BiomX is primarily focused on developing customised phage candidates that target and kill harmful bacteria causing chronic diseases such as IBD and cancer.

Its acne drug candidate BX001 is a topical gel consisting of natural phage that could modulate Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes).

Intended for IBD, BX002 is a customised phage cocktail designed to eliminate certain bacterial targets related to disease onset. This candidate is said to address the underlying cause of the condition, rather than providing only symptomatic relief.

The company forged multiple partnerships to aid in developing phage candidates.

With Takeda, BiomX is working on formulations for its phage therapy manufacturing intermediates and the final form to be administered.

In alliance with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the company is using its XMarker biomarker discovery platform to stratify responders and non-responders to IBD therapeutics.

A deal with Weizmann Institute of Science provides access to phage discovery systems and target bacteria discovery platform, while JSR Corporation exclusively sub-licensed a set of bacterial targets for IBD.