Malvern’s VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. is receiving up to $4.1 million in non-dilutive funding, with the possibility of up to an additional $8.9 million if certain project milestones are met, from Boston’s CARB-X to develop a new class of oral antibiotics to treat infections caused by multi-drug-resistant (MDR) Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Health officials have identified MDR gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted bacteria, as an urgent global public health threat, exacerbated by limited diagnostics and treatment options. VenatoRx is developing an oral penicillin-binding protein inhibitor (PBPi) to address the growing problem of resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae to the last resort antibiotic for outpatient use, ceftriaxone. CARB-X funding will help VenatoRx progress from hit-to-lead through IND-enabling studies.

CARB-X, a global non-profit partnership, is investing up to $500 million between 2016-2021 to support the development of new antibiotics, rapid diagnostics, vaccines and other life-saving products. The goal is to support projects through the early phases of development — through Phase 1 for therapeutics — so that they will attract additional private or public support for further clinical development and approval for use in patients.

The CARB-X portfolio is the world’s largest antibacterial development portfolio with 32 active projects in five countries. Since its launch in 2016, CARB-X has announced 51 awards exceeding $154 million, with the potential of additional funds if project milestones are met, to accelerate the development of antibacterial products.

CARB-X is led by Boston University and funding for the VenatoRx project is provided by the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the Wellcome Trust, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and with in-kind support from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.