PolyMedix won a $161,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to progress evaluation of its defensin-mimetic antibiotic candidate brilacidin in the treatment of oral mucositis. The funds will support dosing studies in animal models, evaluation of the drug’s mechanism of action, and optimization of an oral rinse formulation.

Preclinical in vivo studies have previously demonstrated brilacidin reduces the occurrence of severe ulcerative oral mucositis in animal models by over 94%, PolyMedix claims. The firm is currently working toward an IND application with FDA, and projects clinical trials could start in cancer patients during the first half of 2013.

“Like host defense proteins, brilacidin and related compounds have shown antibacterial, antibiofilm, and anti-inflammatory properties,” states Richard Scott, Ph.D., vp of research at PolyMedix. “We believe that the combination of these attributes contribute to the encouraging efficacy of brilacidin demonstrated in these animal studies.”

Brilacidin is the first in PolyMedix’ program to develop defensin-mimetic antibiotics, a class of antibacterials designed to mimic the action of host defense proteins that kill infecting bacteria by forming pores in the bacterial cell membrane. The firm claims that by mimicking this mechanism, brilacidin exploits a method of bacterial cell killing that significantly reduces the risk for emergence of resistance. The drug has demonstrated rapid bactericidal activity against a number of Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), drug resistant Enteroccus, E. coli, and NDM-1 drug-resistant Klebsiella pneumonia.

In April PolyMedix reported promising data from a Phase II clinical trial evaluating brilacidin in the treatment of acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections caused by Staphyloccocus aureus, including MRSA. The firm in addition plans to develop brilacidin against blood stream infections and lung infections. 

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