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October 15, 2020 Bioscience

Branford’s Azitra raises $17M in round led by Bayer

PHOTO | Courtesy Azitra Inc.

A Branford biotech leveraging healthy bacteria to develop treatments for skin conditions has doubled its lifetime venture capital fundraising with a $17 million round led by the investment arm of pharma giant Bayer.

Azitra Inc. said Thursday it would use the Series B funding to advance its development of dermatological medicines and natural skin-care products that leverage the good bacteria that live on the skin, known as the skin microbiome.

The latest funding follows the six-year-old company’s $14 million Series A round in October 2019. Including earlier financing, it brings the startup’s total venture capital raise to $34 million.

Leaps by Bayer, a unit of Bayer AG that invests in health and agriculture companies, invested $8 million toward the round, which also included participation by existing investors Bios Partners and Connecticut Innovations.

“Bayer will provide valuable strategic insights for our consumer product development while we continue to move our therapeutic candidates into clinical testing for dermatologic indications,” Azitra President and CEO Richard Andrews said in a statement.

Azitra, which moved into a new 12,000-square-foot lab and office facility at 21 Business Park Dr. this spring, began working with the German life-sciences conglomerate in January.

Bayer and Azitra are using the biotech’s proprietary panel of Staphylococcus epidermidis strains to identify candidates that can be used in over-the-counter and cosmetic products for sensitive, eczema-prone skin. 

“Azitra’s cutting-edge microbiome technology platform has the potential to address multiple issues of the human skin,” Jürgen Eckhardt, head of Leaps by Bayer, said in a statement. 

He said the division invests in companies with “transformative technologies” that have the ability to “move the paradigm from treatment to cure.”

Azitra is also working on treatments using genetically engineered bacteria for cancer therapy-associated rashes and Netherton’s syndrome, a rare skin disorder marked by severe dry, red and flaky skin.

Contact Natalie Missakian at

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