Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of being both a patient and a scientist with CF is seeing just how quickly the field is growing. And fortunately, you don’t need an “insider’s knowledge” to see the changes. The CFF Pipeline to a Cure ably captures the exciting eruption of companies working in the clinical trials sphere. Using the toolbars, you can see changes that have occurred within the last year, and how many potential CFTR modulators may become available in the future.
Some very important (and fascinating) approaches to treating infections in CF are likely to be added to the list.
This past week, I had the privilege of speaking with the CEO of Novoclem Therapeutics, Anne Whitaker. Even before our phone conversation, I was “geeking out” over the medication currently being developed. Nitric oxide (NO) is a known player in the immune system, and helps regulate the response against bacteria that cause disease. Novoclem is developing a biopolymer that may make it possible to regulate both the immune system and inflammation in one treatment.
Independent early studies by the Southern Research Institute showed that Novoclem’s drug was able to address many bacteria that affect those with CF. Specifically, these include methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Burkholderia cepacia, Mycobacterium Avium-Intracellulare Complex (MAC), Mycobacterium abscessus, Achromobacter xylosoxidans and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia. Novoclem hopes to begin clinical tests of the drug in 2018.
Anyone who is familiar with CF knows how the ability to treat any of the bacteria named above would be a major breakthrough to the thousands of people with CF who battle those bacteria. Antibiotic resistance is a common and growing threat to the CF community. The introduction of a new anti-infective treatment would a game changer.
One of the first things that stood out to me about Novoclem is that the CEO has a personal connection to CF. Growing up, Anne referenced a family member who lived with, and died from, CF. In my experience talking to CF companies, it isn’t always common to find this personal connection to our disease.
So why is this important to me as a patient? To me, it means the company “gets it.” People at Novoclem have seen first-hand the devastation of CF, and can leverage those personal experiences to find the drive to make a massive impact on the CF community.
It was evident that Novoclem cares about the CF community. Its social media sources regularly spotlight CF patients and depict the beautiful diversity of achievements, and obstacles, within our community.
We want companies that care about patients. As someone with CF, I’ve finally come to terms that my disease is a large part of my identity. The ability to tell those striving to create our next generation of treatments deserve to hear our stories. Every company should absolutely spend the time to understand and study the complexity of the CF community.
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