By Grant Ellis, Director NovaBiotics Ltd

On Monday we learnt from Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser that Coronavirus will probably never disappear and a vaccine won’t stop it completely.  He also said that ministers and experts should stop ‘over-promising’ and be realistic about the prospects of a vaccine and the likely timeline of one, unlikely before spring next year.

He then echoed his earlier warnings and those of his colleague Professor Chris Whitty that the COVID-19 fight will be a long one, and it will be with us for good.

So, from this should we assume there is no ‘silver bullet’ for COVID -19 infections?

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,

then wouldn’t that be something we should all be getting excited about?

Surely though no such ‘silver bullet’ game changing therapy exists?  After all, the only treatments we hear about for COVID are those which President Trump took, which were either very new, expensive and experimental or have a very narrow application to a particular aspect of the disease.

Well, you heard it here first – such a ‘silver bullet’ treatment does exist today.  It’s called Nylexa®, from the small UK biotech company NovaBiotics Ltd.  It’s active ingredients have been safely used in medicines that treat unrelated conditions for over 30 years.

NovaBiotics discovered Nylexa’s potential benefits in COVID-19 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.  In March they applied for a £1m grant from Innovate UK (representing the government) to start clinical studies.  That grant was eventually awarded earlier this month, and the government are now considering whether or not to include Nylexa on two separate NHS platform studies.

But why, I hear you ask, if this is so good have we not heard about it before?  Why are the government and the press not shouting about this from the rooftops?  Why is this not being demanded by clinicians desperate for effective treatments for their patients?

I’m afraid to say, it all boils down to money.  Small biotech companies find it difficult to get attention as they don’t have the resources available to their larger better funded rivals.  The names we read about regularly when it comes to ground breaking new treatments are invariably large multi-national pharmaceutical companies with deep pockets and big budgets to promote their own particular wares.  They make sure their drugs get the required attention.  NovaBiotics is a small private company funded by a group of loyal and supportive shareholders so unfortunately don’t have the resources to compete for attention with the big boys.

Which is why this situation is so frustrating.  In mitigating the health consequences of contracting COVID-19, Nylexa® could increase public confidence of living with the virus for the longer term and potentially allow a greater degree of normality to return to the way in which we live, benefiting the economy directly in addition to easing COVID-19’s burden on the NHS and healthcare systems globally.  Yet getting people in positions of influence to take notice amongst all the others competing for their attention is very difficult indeed.

It is reported that there are thousands of potential COVID-19 treatments in clinical trials across the world.  I would challenge anyone to show me one which has the same potential for positive impact as Nylexa®, yet this is not currently part of any trial, despite its impeccable credentials.  So come on UK Government, and ministers, get your finger out and get this drug into trials immediately.  The sooner it gets 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. 

About Nylexa®

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.

 

For further information contact

Dr Deborah O’Neil – CEO & CSO

0044 (0)1224 711377

deborah@novabiotics.co.uk