Farmington-based biotech started by Yale scientists gets more funding

A Farmington-based company that was started four years ago by a group of Yale University scientists has secured $2.15 million in new financing.

Azitra Inc. received the financing from a combination of sources, including the state technology investment arm, Connecticut Innovations. The company is using genetic engineering to develop new topical dermatological and skin care treatments, the first of which Azitra officials expect to begin human testing on later this year.

The funding announced Wednesday brings the total financing the company has received to $5.4 million. In addition to Connecticut Innovations, Azitra has received financing from Bios Partners, a Texas-based venture capital firm that specializes in early-stage biotechnology and medical device companies, as well as North Carolina-based KdT Ventures.

Richard Andrews, president and chief executive officer of Azitra, said the latest round of funding is an effort to support what he called “an exciting time” for the company.

Andrews said the company’s drug candidates include a treatment for eczema and ichthyosis vulgaris, an inherited or acquired skin condition that causes dry, dead skin cells to accumulate in patches on the skin’s surface. The company also is working on a treatment for Netherton syndrome, a rare skin disease.

Dan Wagner, Connecticut Innovations’ managing director of investments, said officials with the technology funding agency “are very impressed with the progress Azitra has made in bringing together the power of the microbiome with genetic engineering to form a technology platform that holds great potential to treat skin diseases and conditions.”

Azitra also is collaborating with scientists at Farmington-based Jackson Laboratories and the University of Connecticut in developing its drugs.

One of Azitra’s founders is Travis Whitfill, an associate research scientist in Yale’s Department of Pediatrics. Whitfill is the company’s chief science officer and was recently named to Forbes magazine’s 2018 “30 under 30” in the health care sector.