By Grant Ellis, Director NovaBiotics Ltd
Back in October I quoted Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser saying that no vaccine for Covid was likely before the spring of 2021. We all now know that there are two vaccines that have been given the green light for emergency use in the UK with at least one more in the queue up to be approved in the UK and elsewhere in the coming weeks and months. So, much better news surely, as our lives will go back to normal when we’re all vaccinated next year.
Or will they? The mutations that have resulted in new variants of Covid, including a seemingly fast-spreading strain that appears to be much more effective at infecting people – reportedly up to 58% more effective than its older cousins. The vaccines that have been approved and those not far behind were developed against the original strain that appeared more than 12 months ago. With a rapidly mutating virus, will the vaccines be as effective against these inevitable new variants? For the time being most certainly yes, but the virus has now taken what is described by experts as ‘the first step towards vaccine escape’. This reminds us of the complexities of vaccination strategies and that we must track and potentially adapt vaccines over time to cover all possible variations a virus might throw up. This is true for flu, but the speed at, and extent to which the Covid virus will continue to mutate is a significant unknown. This adds another layer of complexity on top of the logistical issues of producing and supplying enough vaccine to get everyone vaccinated. We have already seen that targets for vaccination are being missed. Vaccinating even the most vulnerable by Summer 2021 now appears to be a challenge, even with the target of a roll-out of the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine as early as next week. When the rest of the population eventually gets vaccinated is anyone’s guess!
It’s estimated that by mid-January around 90% of Covid cases will have been caused by the new, more transmissible virus, long before all have been vaccinated, which means that more effective treatments have to be found as a matter of real urgency if we are to ‘save’ the NHS from being overwhelmed. Today’s numbers of cases, hospital admissions and deaths within a month of a positive Covid test speak for themselves and very loudly.
Back in October I was banging the gong for our Covid treatment Nylexa®. At the time I posed the question, what if there were a single treatment that:
- could stop the infection in its tracks,
- was anti-inflammatory; controlling the immune system’s response to the infection and stopping it from overreacting dangerously,
- in cases where patients developed secondary bacterial infections in the lungs could supercharge antibiotics; boosting their efficacy and even,
- was a repurposed drug; already proven as safe
- was easy to make, scalable at the level required to make a difference in the pandemic and was cost effective,
and then revealed that such a treatment does indeed exist, and it’s Nylexa®, the active ingredients of which have been safely used in medicines that treat unrelated conditions for over 30 years.
NovaBiotics discovered Nylexa’s potential benefits in Covid following a decade of research in difficult to treat, drug-resistant infections, including the complex chest infections and inflammation associated with cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease.
I mentioned previously that there are thousands of potential Covid treatments in clinical trials across the world. I then challenged anyone to show me one which has the same potential for positive impact as Nylexa®, (No one did) and two months later this is still not currently part of any trial, despite its impeccable credentials. So, I say again, the sooner Nylexa® is tested, the sooner it can be used to help sort out the mess the pandemic has caused to all our lives.
About NovaBiotics Ltd (www.novabiotics.co.uk)
NovaBiotics Ltd is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the design and development of first-in-class therapies for difficult-to-treat, medically unmet infectious
diseases caused by bacteria and fungi and respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis and COVID-19.
A leading innovator in the anti-infectives space, the Company’s robust technology and business model has been validated through successful development, from concept to late-stage clinical development, of its most advanced product candidates. In addition to the lead Nylexa® programme and the Company’s other late-stage assets (Lynovex® for cystic fibrosis, NP213/Novexatin® for onychomycosis), NovaBiotics has generated a robust pipeline of earlier stage, high-value drug candidates including NP339 (Department of Health and Social Care funded programme) for life threatening, drug resistant invasive fungal disease and NP432 for multi-drug resistant bacterial infections.
Nylexa® is a novel, dual antimicrobial-immunomodulatory candidate therapy. It is a simple, small molecule which has broad ranging antimicrobial effects through directly targeting microbes and also modulating the body’s ability to control infection. Importantly, Nylexa’s active ingredient has a key role in the resolution of infection and control of inflammation which NovaBiotics has exploited as a solution to COVID-19.
For bacterial infections, Nylexa is a potential solution to a public health challenge even greater than COVID-19: the worsening antimicrobial biotic resistance (AMR) crisis. Because Nylexa’s active ingredient is repurposed and has been used in medicines for other, unrelated conditions for more than 30 years, it can potentially be introduced into clinical practice within a much shorter timescale than new antibiotic(s) treatments developed from first principle. Put simply, Nylexa® ‘supercharges’ existing antibiotics in bacterial infections, especially against drug resistant bacteria.
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