PLoS Journal article highlights initial research success of a boron-based compound, ready to enter into clinical development, resulting from collaboration between two U.S. biotechs and DNDi
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), Anacor Pharmaceuticals, and SCYNEXIS Inc. today announced the successful completion of pre-clinical studies for the first new oral drug candidate discovered specifically to combat human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), also known as sleeping sickness. An article released today in the open-access journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, reveals the initial successful results of pre-clinical studies of the new compound, which will soon advance to Phase I human clinical trials.
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Two-thirds of all reported sleeping sickness cases are found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where healthcare is often inaccessible to large parts of the population due to violent conflict, great distances patients must travel to health facilities, and extreme poverty. Dr. Miaka Mia Bilenge, special advisor to the National Control Program for Human African Trypanosomiasis in the DRC, explained that if the new drug candidate proves to be successful, it could become a major weapon to control sleeping sickness.
“People in the DRC and many countries in Africa have hoped for a safe, easy-to-use, and effective treatment against sleeping sickness for generations,” Dr. Miaka Mia Bilenge said. “We very much look forward to the start of human trials, and we hope that at long last this will give us a tool for sustainable elimination of this dreaded disease.”
In pre-clinical studies, the new drug candidate, SCYX-7158, also registered as AN5568, demonstrated safety and the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier making it efficacious against stage 1 and stage 2 of the disease. In addition, its oral formulation, short duration of therapy and excellent pre-clinical safety profile imply that SCYX-7158 (AN5568) could change the way sleeping sickness is treated, reduce its incidence in humans, and contribute to elimination of the disease.
The successful development of this new compound was the result of a unique collaboration between Anacor Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company in Palo Alto, California, SCYNEXIS, a drug discovery and development company based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and DNDi, a not-for-profit research and development (R&D) organization that develops new drugs to address the needs of the world’s most neglected populations.
“This innovative collaboration, expounding upon the expertise and engagement of two biotech companies and a not-for-profit R&D organization, has brought excellent results thus far, and this in an incredibly short timeframe,” said Dr. Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director of DNDi. “The message is clear that it is possible to stimulate patient needs-driven R&D for neglected tropical diseases, even if there is no commercial market,” added Pécoul.
SCYX-7158 (AN5568) is a product of Anacor’s novel boron chemistry which has produced a number of compounds with efficacy against a range of fungal, inflammatory and bacterial diseases. Realizing this technology could also be used for neglected diseases, Anacor, with the help of the Sandler Center for Drug Discovery of the University of California, San Francisco, screened its library of boron-based compounds for activity against the sleeping sickness parasites and identified an attractive lead series. In order to ensure further development of these compounds, Anacor approached DNDi, which was actively seeking compounds for its lead optimization program. DNDi, Anacor, SCYNEXIS, and a consortium including Pace University and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute then worked on the series of molecules in pre-clinical studies that led to the development of the compound for which DNDi is filing a dossier for first in man (FIM) studies to enter Phase I clinical trials in Europe.
“Due to its safety and efficacy against both stages of the disease, and its ability to be administered orally, this compound could be a breakthrough in the treatment of sleeping sickness and could significantly improve the lives of those who suffer from this insidious disease,” said David Perry, CEO of Anacor Pharmaceuticals. “We are committed to applying our boron chemistry platform to the discovery and development of new treatments for neglected diseases, and it’s only with the support of organizations like DNDi and their donors that we are able to fulfill that commitment.“
SCYNEXIS CEO, Dr. Yves Ribeill, said the program is part of SCYNEXIS’ policy of contributing to neglected disease projects. “Success so far was in large part due to the work of several organizations working closely together. If we are going to find effective medicines against diseases that exact a terrible toll in developing countries, we need to find new approaches in the discovery process. This program is an example,” said Ribeill.
Thanks to continuous support from public and private donors, DNDi secured USD$14.8 million in support of this lead optimization and pre-clinical program. Most of the funding was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition, specific funding was obtained from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MAEE), France, and core funding from the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID), Spain and Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Additional funding is being sought for the clinical phases of this program.
Background document & PLoS scientific publication
- To read the background document “Collaborative Model Brings New Hope to Patients with Sleeping Sickness – The Story Behind a New Drug Candidate Discovered by the Biotech Industry for Sleeping Sickness”, click here.
- To read the PLoS NTD publication “SCYX-7158, an Orally-Active Benzoxaborole for the Treatment of Stage 2 Human African Trypanosomiasis”, click here.
About sleeping sickness
Sleeping sickness, which threatens millions in 36 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, is fatal if left untreated. The disease is caused by parasites transmitted by the bite of a tsetse fly and is often asymptomatic for years until the infection reaches “stage 2” where it crosses into the central nervous system and brain. Without effective treatment, sleeping sickness is fatal. Currently available treatments are limited to drugs developed decades ago that are either highly toxic, difficult to administer in resource-limited settings, or are only effective in one stage of the disease. In addition, prior to being treated, the stage of the disease must be determined using a diagnostic spinal tap to extract cerebrospinal fluid from the patient.
About Anacor Pharmaceuticals
Anacor is a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing novel small-molecule therapeutics derived from its boron chemistry platform. Anacor has five compounds in clinical development, all of which were internally discovered, including its three lead programs: AN2690, a topical antifungal for the treatment of onychomycosis; AN2728, a topical anti-inflammatory PDE-4 inhibitor for the treatment of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis; and GSK 2251052, or GSK ‘052 (formerly referred to as AN3365), a systemic antibiotic for the treatment of infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria, which has been licensed to GlaxoSmithKline under the companies’ research and development agreement. In addition, Anacor is developing AN2718 as a topical antifungal product candidate for the treatment of onychomycosis and skin fungal infections, and AN2898 as a topical anti-inflammatory product candidate for the treatment of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.
DeDe Sheel, Director, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications
Tel.: +1 (650) 543 7575
SCYNEXIS delivers integrated, efficient and innovative drug discovery and development solutions to its global health and pharmaceutical partners. Its record of success is exemplified by the delivery of eleven pre-clinical drug candidates over the last five years. SCYNEXIS’ teams are tailored to be especially effective in moving customer projects from concept to clinic, utilizing powerful proprietary technologies such as the HEOS® SaaS Software Platform for comprehensive drug discovery information management and the MEDCHEM-FACTORY® High-Throughput Synthesis and Purification Platform. Its fully-integrated contract research solutions include medicinal chemistry, advanced biological screening, in vitro pharmacology and ADMET, DMPK, bioanalytical and analytical chemistry, process chemistry, and cGMP manufacturing. Founded in 2000, SCYNEXIS is located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, U.S.A.
Terry Marquardt, Executive Director, Market Development, SCYNEXIS, Inc.
Tel.: +1 (919) 544 8603
About Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi)
DNDi is a not-for-profit research and development organization working to deliver new treatments for neglected diseases, in particular human African trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, malaria, and, with the recent expansion of its portfolio, specific helminth-related infections and pediatric HIV. DNDi was established in 2003 by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation from Brazil, the Indian Council for Medical Research, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the Ministry of Health of Malaysia, and the Pasteur Institute of France. The UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/World Health Organization’s Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) serves as a permanent observer. Since 2003, DNDi has delivered four treatments: two fixed-dose anti-malarials (ASAQ and ASMQ), NECT (nifurtimox-eflornithine combination therapy) for late-stage sleeping sickness, and SSG&PM (sodium stibogluconate & paromomycin combination therapy) for visceral leishmaniasis in Africa.
Violaine Dällenbach, Press & Communications Manager, DNDi
Tel.: +41 79 424 14 74