A north-east pharmaceutical company has secured £1.8million in grant funding as part of a research competition aimed at tackling antimicrobial resistance in humans.
NovaBiotics received the funding to further develop Novamycin, the firm’s first-in-class compound with potential to combat life threatening and drug resistant blood stream and tissue fungal infections.
The firm believes there is a clear and urgent need for new antifungal treatments for serious infections.
Novamycin is active against fungi, including drug resistant forms, for which existing therapies do not work.
It also has a unique mechanism of action that mitigates opportunities for resistance in fungi developing in the future.
The firm said the drug is highly differentiated from existing antifungal treatments in how it rapidly kills its target fungi.
It is also not associated with the potentially serious toxicity issues posed by some currently available antifungal treatment options.
This is because its provenance is the natural antifungal defence system employed by the body and so unlike other agents that do not always distinguish healthy human cells from a fungal pathogen, Novamycin has no off-target pharmacology.
The £1.8million project aims to transform Novamycin from a laboratory-stage antifungal compound to a fully formulated antifungal drug candidate ready for clinical testing.
This would represent a potential breakthrough in advancing Novamycin further towards addressing the significant need for new, safe, effective therapies for life-threatening invasive fungal infections.
The grant was made as part of a £10million Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition run by Innovate UK on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), with the aim of supporting the implementation of the Government’s five-year national AMR action plan.
Dr Deborah O’Neil, CEO of NovaBiotics, said: “This award allows us to accelerate the next key stage of Novamycin’s development towards being a much-needed solution to life threatening fungal infections against which the limited number of existing therapies are ineffective.
“This is a somewhat neglected and under-invested area of antimicrobial research and so we are delighted to have received this strategic funding through the SBRI contract as part of the Government’s commitment to combatting antimicrobial resistance.”
Dr Kath Mackay, Interim Director – Ageing Society, Health & Nutrition, Innovate UK added: “Antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest global challenges in healthcare.
“It has been estimated that the AMR threat could lead to 10 million extra deaths a year and cost the global economy up to £75 trillion by 2050.”
NovaBiotics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the design and development of first-in-class therapies for difficult-to-treat diseases.