News | November 29, 2007

Pharmaceutical Company Developing New Compound to Fight MRSA

November 30, 2007 - In the fight against deadly Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which responds poorly to conventional antibiotic treatment, NovaBay Pharmaceuticals Inc. is developing an anti-infective, but technically not an antibiotic.

The company recently announced results from a Phase I clinical trial with its NVC-422, whose trade name is AgaNase, which is a new compound with reportedly has potent activity against numerous pathogens, including MRSA.

MRSA infects 90,000 Americans per year and causes 19,000 deaths, most in hospital settings. Infections have recently been reported outside of hospital settings at an increasing rate, which has alarmed public health officials. Approximately 14 percent of MRSA-related illnesses occur in community settings.

Staphylococcus aureus colonizes, without infecting, about 30 percent of human beings. The colonization exists unnoticed, primarily in the nose and on the skin. Individuals who suffer wounds, or whose immune systems are compromised by illness, are susceptible to conditions as mild as a boil or as life-threatening as systemic infection.

Nasal colonization by Staphylococci is an important risk factor that predisposes carriers to nosocomial (hospital) infections. NovaBay hopes that by greatly reducing this layer of colonizing bacteria with its new spray, hospital patients will be less likely to experience serious MRSA infections.

NVC-422 rapidly destroys a range of pathogens that includes Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, yeasts, and viruses. Because it kills pathogens on contact and not through typical antibiotic mechanisms, the company says bacteria and viruses are unlikely to develop resistance to NVC-422 treatment.

The recently completed Phase I trial demonstrated that topical application of NVC-422 to the lower nasal passages, or nostrils, is safe and well tolerated. Researchers could not detect any trace of NVC-422 in the blood.

The clinical study tested safety and tolerability following repeated applications of AgaNase at two drug concentrations, 0.1% and 0.3%, applied by spray or swab to the nostrils. Ninety-six subjects were enrolled and completed the study. Adverse events were local, mild and transitory and did not appear to increase with dosage.

Based on these results, NovaBay has begun a second Phase I trial to test the safety of NVC-422 at a higher dose. Results from this study should become available by early 2008. In parallel with the second Phase I study, NovaBay expects to begin a Phase IIa study by January 2008, in healthy volunteers who harbor S. aureus in their nasal passages.

The target market for NVC-422 is hospital-associated infections, particularly those occurring in surgical wounds. Surgical site infection significantly lengthens hospital stays and may result in death. Hospital-associated MRSA infections cost the U.S. healthcare system tens of billions of dollars per year and are rapidly rising in frequency.

NovaBay has entered into a licensing and research collaboration agreement with an affiliate of Alcon, Inc. for the use of compounds similar to NVC-422 in eye, ear and sinus infections, and in contact lens solutions.

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