Aberdeen-based biotechnology pioneer Deborah O’Neil will present “encouraging data” for a drug aimed at difficult-to-treat and potentially life-threatening fungal diseases at a prestigious medical conference in the city.
The 10th Congress on Trends in Medical Mycology (TIMM) is the bi-annual meeting of the European Confederation of Medical Mycology and is taking place from today (October 8) until Monday at P&J Live.
Ms O’Neil, chief executive of Granite City firm NovaBiotics, will give an overview of the NP339 drug as a novel peptide therapy candidate for invasive and respiratory fungal disease.
We are particularly pleased to have this year’s TIMM take place in our hometown of Aberdeen.”
Deborah O’Neil, chief executive NovaBiotics.
She said: “We look forward to presenting these encouraging data on NP339, our novel peptide antifungal, developed to address the critical need for more effective and safer treatments for invasive fungal disease.
“We are particularly pleased to have this year’s TIMM take place in our hometown of Aberdeen.
“There is a good number of people from the UK going to be there, and from Europe.
“It’s testament to the heritage of Aberdeen’s track record in this area of medical research.”
Potential to transform treatment of fungal disease
Bridge of Don-based NovaBiotics develops and tests life-changing medicines for conditions including cystic fibrosis and, more recently, Covid-19.
Ms O’Neil and her team have been working for some time on the NP339 drug.
She said: “It’s still early stage but it’s a candida therapy for blood stream and deep tissue fungal infections, as well as infections of the airways that are caused by fungus.
“We are developing NP339 for both of those types of illnesses which are very difficult to treat.
“It has a resistance-mitigating mechanism of action and toxicity profile that is highly distinct from other classes of antifungal, because it is based on immune defence molecules.
“We believe NP339 represents a promising new class of therapy… that has the potential to transform treatment paradigms for invasive fungal disease.”
“It’s still early stage”, she said, adding: “The first trial most likely will be for the injectable form for people with invasive fungal disease.
“We are at the stage of completing the last of the safety testing, so it’s at the final stage before we are preparing for trials.
“We are not a million miles away and hoping in the near future we will be in the first human safety trials at least for the injectable form.
“And then, hopefully, soon after… the inhaled version for respiratory infections.”
The conference is expected to be attended by around 275 people and the return of live events in the city has been welcomed by VisitAberdeenshire.
Chris Foy, the tourism body’s chief executive, said: “The value of business events and conferences to the city and the wider region cannot be underestimated, and Aberdeen’s competitive position is significantly enhanced since the opening of P&J Live.
“Events like The 10th Congress on Trends in Medical Mycology solidify Aberdeen’s reputation as a burgeoning business events host city.
“During the last 18 months 24 bids were submitted, with a combined value of £24 million to the local economy, with £1.1m already confirmed for future years.”