Novacta Achieves First Milestone from the Wellcome Trust's Strategic Award

07/10/2008

Novacta Therapeutics Achieves First Milestone from the Wellcome Trust's Strategic Translational Award for a New Treatment for C. difficile Infection

Novacta Therapeutics, the anti-infectives development arm of Novacta Biotech, announces that it has successfully achieved the first milestone in a strategic translational award received from the Wellcome Trust to develop a new drug to treat Clostridium difficile
(C. difficile) infections.

The achievement of this significant milestone triggers the second tranche of a £3.5 million award granted in January 2008. Novacta will enter the selected drug candidate NVB302 into formal preclinical development. The end goal is for Novacta to progress the programme to human clinical studies.

C. difficile infections (CDIs) are a growing and serious problem, associated with twice as many deaths in UK hospitals last year as MRSA. Cases of CDIs, which occur in the lower digestive tract, rose by 22 per cent in the past year and affected more than 15,500 people over 65 in the first quarter of 2007. New anti-infective drugs are needed to target C. difficile without depleting other beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Novacta is developing novel, naturally-derived products known as ‘lantibiotics' as first-in-class drugs for treating hospital acquired infections caused by C. difficile. Early preclinical data indicate that the product shows promise as an effective treatment by acting selectively to kill C. difficile with less disturbance of normal gut bacteria than with existing drugs, predicting that the drug has a good recurrence prognosis. Recurrence of the disease is the central problem to any C. difficile anti-bacterial therapy. In addition, exploratory data have demonstrated that the drug is safe and well-tolerated.

Ted Bianco, Director of Technology Transfer at the Wellcome Trust, said: ‘The increasing incidence of C. difficile infections poses a serious challenge to those entrusted with the care of individuals at risk, both in the hospital and care-home environments. New treatments are needed, as well as effective means of prevention. The Wellcome Trust is delighted to be contributing to this effort by supporting the exciting work being progressed by Novacta.'