Anacor Pharmaceuticals is teaming up with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Sandler Center and the Lindsey F. Kimball Research Institute (LFKRI) of New York Blood Center (NYBC) to develop new drugs for the treatment of onchocerciasis, a parasitic disease also known as river blindness. The program will be funded through a two-year, $3.61 million grant to UCSF from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, of which Anacor will receive $2.24 million.
The research will combine Anacor’s boron-based chemistry platform, drug discovery and development capabilities, with the Sandler Center’s expertise in ‘neglected disease’ biology and drug discovery, and the LFKRI’s onchocerciasis expertise. The ultimate aim is to identify a potent macrofilaricidal drug candidate capable of killing adult worms. Anacor points out current therapies only kill the parasite’s microfilaria, which means every infected individual needs to be treated repeatedly over several years to address the whole life cycle of the adult worms and stop further transmission.
“We have a long-standing history of collaboration with Anacor on applying their novel boron-based chemistry platform to neglected parasitic diseases, “remarks James H. McKerrow, Ph.D., Robert E. Smith professor of experimental pathology and leader of the Sandler Center for Drug Discovery at UCSF. “We believe this approach holds significant promise to discover novel and potent compounds that can potentially meet this significant unmet need and help prevent unnecessary blindness.”
Anacor’s flagship technology platform is based on the use of boron chemistry to develop novel therapies, and is applying its platform to generate new compound families with broad chemical diversity and retention of drug-like properties. The firm’s resulting pipeline includes five clinical candidates. These include two topically administered dermatologic compounds for the treatment of onychomycosis/fungal infections and two topical compounds for treating psoriasis. A fifth Phase I/II candidate, GSK ‘052 (formerly AN3365), is a systemic antibiotic for the treatment of infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria. GSK ‘052 has been developed through a drug discovery collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). In June the drugs giant exercised its option for an exclusive license to develop and commercialize the antibiotic worldwide. Anacor says it believes GSK currently plans to develop GSK ‘052 as a potential treatment for cUTI, cIAIs, and other Gram-negative bacterial infections, such as HAP/VAP.