Interview

​SME of the Month – NovaBiotics

Get to know the leading innovator in the anti-infectives space, #SMEoftheMonth NovaBiotics in our inteview series.

NovaBiotics, is a UK-based clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the design and development of first-in-class anti-infectives for difficult-to-treat, medically unmet diseases. A leading innovator in the anti-infectives space, the company’s robust technology and business model has been validated through successful development, from concept to clinic, of two lead products and securing the most appropriate commercial collaborations to enable the delivery of these highly promising therapy candidates to markets of significant worth. We interviewed CEO and Founder, Dr. Deborah O’Neil for our monthly interview series.

How did NovaBiotics start out?

I set NovaBiotics up in order to fully explore and develop the therapeutic and commercial potential of innate immune effector molecules (antimicrobial peptides and aminiothiols) as much-needed new antimicrobial therapies. The company began life in 2004 as a spin out of the University of Aberdeen’s Rowett Research Institute. We now have a presence in the US and Ireland, while our R&D HQ remains in Aberdeen.

NovaBiotics is a leading innovator in the anti-infectives space – what are you currently working on?

We are currently developing Lynovex, the first ever specific intervention for infectious pulmonary exacerbations of cystic fibrosis (CF) which is ready to enter global registration studies. We also have an earlier stage inhaled form of this drug which acts as a continuous treatment to maintain ventilatory function in CF patients. From our peptide platform, we’re working on Novamycin, a peptide antifungal for life-threatening mould and yeast infections. NovaBiotics recently secured £1.8million in grant funding to further develop Novamycin as part of a Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) research competition aimed at tackling antimicrobial resistance in humans.

There is also, Novarifyn and Luminaderm, our peptide antibacterials against drug resistant Gram negative and positive bacterial infections. Nylexa is our antibiotic potentiator that also has utility in antibacterial resistant infections. These are all speciality care/hospital use medicines. Novexatin is a highly successful, near-market nail fungus treatment on track for the next stage of development.

What makes NovaBiotics unique as a company in your view?

Many things! Our technology is unique and is generating first-in-class antimicrobial therapies based on immune effector molecules. These therapies are not only agnostic to the resistance status of the pathogens they target but have mechanisms of action that mitigate if not rule out future resistance developing. We’re also unique in having more than one egg in our basket; we’re developing antibacterials, antifungals and antibiotic potentiators. There’s a clinical and commercial need for all. Lastly, I think what we’ve achieved as a small company and on relatively little investment also makes us unique; innovation not just in our science but the business model too.

You won the Most Innovative Biotech SME Awards in 2017 – how did your company benefit and what have been your greatest successes since?

We were thrilled to have been recognised in the 2017 awards – particularly for innovation, which is at the heart of what we do as a leading clinical-stage biotechnology company. It was recognised as a very significant achievement by all our stakeholders, internally and externally, which is essential as we progress towards the next phase of clinical trials for oral Lynovex. Every award and recognition also serves to inspire our hardworking team as it affirms the value of their contribution to NovaBiotics and our wider aims. Of course, it also looks good to our existing and potential investors which is always welcome.


NovaBiotics at the 2017 Most Innovative Biotech SME Awards Ceremony (left to right: former MEP Dr. Paul Rübig, NovaBiotics CEO Dr. Deborah O'Neil and Bryan Bodek, Chairman of the Board at NovaBiotics)

As an innovative SME in Europe – where do you see the main barriers starting a successful biotech business in the EU?

Starting a biotech business takes determination and openness to risk. We have been going now for 15 years. The key challenge for this field is longevity and ensuring the business can win sufficient funding to sustain research and development into the long term. The pharmaceutical model is at breaking point, particularly where there is a critical need for R&D into areas like antimicrobial resistance. NovaBiotics has a successful track record in securing significant funding. However, the model needs to address funding across the sector that ensures innovative biotechs reach key inflexion points beyond the valley of death.

On the contrary, are there any key points in the development of the company where the biotech ecosystem in the EU was benefitting your company?

We have been pleased to have been supported and encouraged through a range of corporate and scientific support programmes and awards through the years, and haven benefitted greatly from a collaborative environment in the sector among businesses and academia – company to company and academia to company.

In Europe, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Network for Health Technology Assessment (EUnetHTA) are well aligned with global authorities such as the FDA and are really demonstrating value by strengthening co-operation. European corporate, and patient advocacy groups, plus a range of clinical trials networks also underpin the collaborative ecosystem in which European biotechs exist and are massively important for our continued success through access to governments, regulatory bodies patients and funding.     

What are the aspirations for NovaBiotics in 2019 and beyond?

We aim to continue to grow the business and build on our success and experience to date by further developing our drug candidates through to clinical trials, with the first drug launch, Lynovex, not too far away. We’re looking forward to creating more ‘firsts’. The first treatment for CF exacerbations, the first successful systemically-administered peptide antimicrobial and the first truly successful nail fungus therapy.

 

 

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