Qnovia Collaborates With UVA to Develop Novel Inhaled Therapies for Lung Infections

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Pharmaceutical company Qnovia partners with the University of Virginia (UVA) to create inhaled drugs for lung infections, bolstering their development pipeline with assets for pneumonia and biodefense-related pulmonary infections.

The University of Virginia logo  (Photo credit: The University of Virginia)

The University of Virginia logo

(Photo credit: The University of Virginia)

Pharmaceutical company Qnovia Inc has announced a promising collaboration with the University of Virginia (UVA) to advance innovative inhaled-drug candidates for treating bacterial infections in the lungs. According to the press release, the partnership leverages the expertise of Qnovia in inhaled drug delivery and UVA's proprietary portfolio of antimicrobial peptides. Their joint effort aims to combat antibiotic-resistant and biodefense bacteria responsible for life-threatening infections.

“Multidrug-resistant bacteria increasingly cause infections that cannot be effectively treated with available antibiotic therapy and, thus, are an immediate threat to global health,” said Molly Hughes, MD, principal investigator at UVA. “We are excited for the opportunity to pursue inhaled delivery to advance our peptides towards improving the lives of patients afflicted by difficult-to-treat bacterial infections.”

Under this collaboration, Qnovia will expand its development pipeline with 2 new assets. QN-05 is targeted for the treatment of pneumonia, while QN-06 is intended for pulmonary infections resulting from exposure to the biodefense agent Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax.

Brian Quigley, Qnovia's CEO, interviewed with Infection Control Today® (ICT®) about the collaboration.

ICT: Can you provide more details about the collaborative efforts between Qnovia and the University of Virginia (UVA) in advancing inhaled-drug candidates for treating lung bacterial infections? What are the primary objectives of this collaboration?

Brian Quigley: The objectives of the collaboration between Qnovia and UVA are to identify high-priority use cases where the combination of the University's peptide portfolio and Qnovia's inhaled drug delivery platform can achieve meaningful impacts on treatment. The initial work we completed focused on aerosolization stability, efficiency, and efficacy post-aerosolization. Our focus moving forward is to advance both the safety and efficacy studies to engage with the FDA as part of the NDA process. In addition to enhancing the assets we announced, we will continue to conduct studies identifying additional indications where we believe inhaled delivery of UVA's peptides using our drug delivery platform can demonstrate positive patient outcomes.

ICT: The collaboration with the University of Virginia focuses on using inhaled drug delivery to combat antibiotic-resistant and biodefense bacteria. Could you explain the unique advantages of inhaled drug delivery over traditional methods in treating these infections and how it contributes to patient outcomes?

BQ: There are 3 potential advantages to inhaled delivery of treatment for infections in the lung that could result in better patient outcomes:

1) By directly delivering the antibiotic to the site of the infection in the lung, one intended goal would be to reduce side effects

2) Given the risk of increasing antibiotic resistance, targeting direct delivery to the lung could allow for dose sparing and thus achieve efficacy without increasing bacteria resistance

3) In conjunction with goals 1 and 2, inhaled delivery can mitigate unnecessary delivery of the drug to other organs

ICT: The addition of QN-05 for treating pneumonia and QN-06 for treating pulmonary infection caused by B anthracis to Qnovia's development pipeline is noteworthy. Could you share insights into the expected impact of these new assets on patient care and the treatment of these conditions?

BQ: We believe direct delivery of the therapeutic to the site of infection with locally higher concentrations in the infected areas of the lungs can help increase efficacy while mitigating systemic side effects. As part of our development work, we expect to conduct in-vivo studies to validate and support initial FDA engagements.

In addition, the ability to deliver the dose of an antimicrobial agent conveniently and with true portability in a handheld nebulizer for multiple dose administrations could lead to significant treatment improvements, specifically related to infection caused by B anthracis. When we envision the potential need for rapid response mechanisms to defend against exposure to agents, including anthrax, among populations at high risk of exposure, including the military, the combination of peptides that have a direct effect on the spores combined with an immediate effective delivery mechanism could have a significant impact on treatment.

ICT: Molly Hughes, MD, mentioned that the collaboration will explore additional high-priority indication areas for the inhaled delivery of UVA's bactericidal peptides. What are some of these high-priority areas, and how do they align with the broader mission of addressing antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

BQ: All the areas under exploration relate to harnessing the broad efficacy demonstrated by UVA's peptides to treat infections caused by many leading antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Our initial focus is on those bacteria that lead to infections in the lung, where a portable and convenient treatment option can lead to better outcomes. While we believe there are many additional potential indications to explore, including the potential for treatment for cystic fibrosis, we need to generate additional supporting data in feasibility studies.

ICT: Given the urgency of antibiotic-resistant infections as a global health threat, are there any plans to expedite the development and regulatory approval processes for QN-05 and QN-06? What is the expected timeline for bringing these treatments to market?

BQ: It is too early to predict the timeline for approval at this time; however, our goal is to validate both QN-05 and QN-06 with in-vivo studies and advance those initial assets with the FDA. It is important to remember that the FDA has clearly defined pathways to accelerate development. As we generate data to support safety and efficacy, we will engage with the FDA to take advantage of every opportunity to move quickly.

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