Many bacteria spend much of their existence within a matrix that they create, called biofilm. Biofilm consists of mucopolysaccharide (or slime-like, think “The Blob” from the 1950s) structures produced by microorganisms as a defense mechanism against their environment.
Encased in biofilm, bacteria can survive for prolonged periods by assuming a dormant state. When bacteria are in a dormant state, they are largely immune to antibiotics, which are generally only effective against bacteria during specific non-dormant stages in their life cycle.
Biofilm infections are associated with sinus infections, ear infections, chronic wounds and infections related to cystic fibrosis. Biofilms are often found on the surface of medical devices such as catheters, stents, contact lenses, bone implants, cochlear implants and breast implants. Right now, you probably have a biofilm infection – dental plaque is one of the more benign forms of biofilm.
When bacteria are protected by biofilm, antibiotics frequently provide only temporary relief and bacteria can eventually emerge from their biofilm to re-infect the patient. In biofilm, bacteria are also largely protected from white blood cells that normally kill most pathogens that enter the body. White blood cells combat bacteria by engulfing them, which they are unable to do once bacteria have created biofilm. Furthermore, many commonly used antiseptics are neutralized by biofilm.
To try to overcome this resistance, NovaBay Pharma is developing Aganocide compounds, which work by mimicking our own natural defense against infection. Since our immune system works without ever creating resistance, NovaBay has taken the effective and rapidly acting molecules that function within our own bodies and created stable analogs of these molecules. Their lead Aganocide compound is NVC-422, but they have synthesized several other analogs.
In data developed during a pre-clinical trial, NVC-422 was demonstrated to be highly effective against well-established biofilm grown on urinary tract catheters. And NVC-422 is in Phase 2 clinical testing for treating pinkeye, impetigo and catheter-associated urinary tract infection.
Ron Najafi, chairman and CEO of NovaBay, says, “Biofilms create problems for the treatment of infections. Our Aganocides show promise is breaking through these defenses and killing the pathogen inside. We are encouraged by the speed with which NVC-422 attack pathogens, their broad spectrum of activity, their effectiveness against multi-drug resistant bacteria and their high therapeutic index.”