HALIFAX, NS-Appili Therapeutics reports it is receiving $2,803,148 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), under the Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF).
The company says it will use the funding to take its first drug, ATI-1501 – a taste-masked, oral antibiotic that treats anaerobic infections like Clostridium difficile – into human clinical trials in the hopes of gaining market approval. The drug is a reformulation of metronidazole, a front-line treatment for anaerobic bacterial infections that generates 10 million issued prescriptions in the U.S. annually.
The company hopes to begin these clinical trials this year and is presently manufacturing the clinical batch of ATI-1501 to good manufacturing practices (GMP), the standard required by the Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Having ACOA recognize the potential of our antibiotic reformulation to become a new weapon against anaerobic infections is outstanding,” said Kevin Sullivan, CEO of Appili Therapeutics. “This AIF funding supports our strategy to advance ATI-1501 into human clinical trials as soon as possible.”
The company adds that the purpose of reformulating metronidazole is that its bitter taste in tablet form often results in poor patient compliance, which leads to the spread of infections and recurrent infections within the patients. In particular, reluctance to complete the prescribed course of antibiotics is highly problematic among children and the elderly with swallowing issues, who must crush and re-suspend tablets to ingest the metronidazole.
The company says that ATI-1501 has been optimized to improve palatability, which should significantly reduce the instances of patient reluctance to take the drug. How it works is once it is ingested, it kills anaerobic bacteria by interfering with their DNA, leading to bacterial cell death thus clearing up the infection.