Crestone Awarded Funding by Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to Develop Antibiotic That Fights NTM Infections

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by Vanessa Pataia |

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Crestone funding

Crestone has received an award from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) to develop preclinical studies for an antibiotic to treat non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infections.

NTMs are responsible for lung infections in 14% of people with cystic fibrosis (CF).

The number of people affected by lung NTM infections is steadily increasing in the U.S., and patients with an existing chronic pulmonary condition like CF, bronchiectasis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease often are at increased risk.

Treating NTM infections can be difficult because the bacteria can become resistant to certain antibiotics (antimicrobial resistance), and alternative treatments may involve medications that are more toxic and cause adverse side effects. Mycobacterium abscessus (M. abscessus) in particular, is an NTM often difficult to treat.

“Potent antibiotics with a novel mode of action and a good safety profile are sorely needed to augment the armamentarium of NTM drugs” Mary Ann DeGroote, MD, who is involved in Crestone’s NTM discovery program, said in a press release.

Crestone’s program will investigate the use of compounds that can block the activity of MmpL3 (Mycobacterial membrane protein Large 3), a protein that is located on the NTM bacteria’s cell membrane and is essential for the bacteria to build their cell wall.

Crestone’s NTM treatment candidates will be tested at Colorado State University and Johns Hopkins University, using different pre-clinical models that mimic what happens in humans with a chronic NTM infection.

At National Jewish Health in Denver, researchers will study the more promising therapies further by testing how effective they are at killing M. abscessus bacteria isolated from patients with CF, and how the bacteria may be able to resist treatment.

“We are excited to advance our NTM program to the lead development stage where we plan to develop drug formulations for both oral and inhaled therapy. Our goal is to demonstrate a pharmacology, tolerability and efficacy profile that warrants the declaration of an IND [investigational new drug] candidate,” said Urs Ochsner, PhD, co-founder and vice president of research and development at Crestone.

The CFF Therapeutic Development Award will fund part of Crestone’s program for two years, but Crestone will have the opportunity to request further support to continue developing its pre-clinical and clinical studies of new therapeutic compounds, including dose and safety assessment studies in patients with CF.

The amount of the award was not disclosed.