Vast Therapeutics Announces Results Showing Ability to Eradicate Anthrax

Vast Therapeutics Announces Results Showing Ability to Eradicate Anthrax Innovative Public Relations Dave Menzies
DURHAM, N.C. -- Vast Therapeutics, Inc. (the Company), a preclinical stage pharmaceutical company delivering nitric oxide in a powder-based form, announced today that the Company’s drug candidate, BIOC51, is active against Bacillus anthracis, commonly known as anthrax, in an in vitro study carried out at Lovelace Biomedical.

Innovative Public Relations Dave Menzies

Dr. Mark Schoenfisch, President and CSO of Vast Therapeutics stated, “We believed our technology would be effective against anthrax as we had already demonstrated BIOC51’s ability to eradicate fast and slow growing bacteria, including 35 antibiotic-resistant strains deemed superbugs by the Center of Disease Control and World Health Organization. Our formulations are designed to be inhaled into the lungs and not require bacterial metabolism for action. Instead, our drug candidates mimic the body’s immune response by delivering large but safe concentrations of nitric oxide via a controlled delivery mechanism, in a water-soluble form.”

Dr. Rebecca McDonald, Lead Microbiologist at Vast Therapeutics, stated, “These experiments proved BIOC51 is effective against anthrax in its active (or vegetative) state. The primary characteristic that makes anthrax so dangerous is its ability to shift from vegetative cells to dormant spores. These spores are robust and can persist in a metabolically inactive state for extended periods. While anthrax spores are typically impervious to treatment with traditional antibiotics, literature has shown that our body’s initial immune response is able to kill spores via nitric oxide released from macrophages. As our mechanism of action mirrors this nitric oxide release by macrophages, we hypothesize that we will be able to similarly affect these spores. We are now pursuing partnerships that allow us to test the activity of our drugs against anthrax spores.”

“Demonstrating effectiveness against anthrax is another key achievement for Vast and KNOW Bio that addresses a significant threat.” said Neal Hunter, CEO and Chairman of Vast Therapeutics. “Adding this pathogen to our growing list of susceptible Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria continues to lay the ground-work for developing an entirely new drug class that mimics human physiology and will revolutionize the standard of care for treating infections.”

Dr. Schoenfisch also noted, “Our focus is on developing antimicrobial therapeutics for respiratory infections. A significant challenge in treating pulmonary infections is that common antibiotics delivered by IV or mouth often fail to eradicate infections in the lung, likely due to low concentrations reaching the site of infection. Therefore, lung infections can be very difficult to clear and latent infections can remain even when the patient is asymptomatic. Because of this, the standard of care for lung infections can include months or even years of antibiotic use. As an example, the standard regimen for mycobacterium avium complex (MAC, a form of non-tuberculous mycobacterium or NTM) includes a cocktail of drugs administered for 18 to 24 months. Our goal is to eradicate pulmonary infections with much shorter treatments without harming the microbiome within the rest of the body. Infections with bacteria that are slow growing, like non-tuberculous mycobacterium, can be particularly difficult for traditional antibiotics as they rely on the bacteria’s metabolism to work.”

Vast Therapeutics is based in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina and runs a leveraged drug development model using a small team with high quality service contractors and suppliers.

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Mark Schoenfisch, PhD, is both Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and President & Chief Scientific Officer at Vast Therapeutics. He is the inventor of multiple macromolecular nitric oxide-release systems and an active entrepreneur, guiding these technologies from research discoveries in his academic lab to manufacturing and clinical trials. With 20 years of experience working with nitric oxide chemistry, he has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles on the synthesis, characterization, and application of nitric oxide-modified biomaterials. Known for his broad expertise spanning chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences, and medicine, Dr. Schoenfisch regularly serves on scientific review panels for the National Institutes of Health. He co-founded Novan, Inc. and helped successfully guide the company to an IPO as a member of its Board of Directors.

Neal Hunter, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Vast Therapeutics, has a 25-year track record of successfully raising capital for and building technology companies in both the public and private markets beginning as a Co-founder of Cree, Inc. Mr. Hunter served multiple roles at Cree, including as the public company CEO and Chairman from 1994 to 2001 and then Chairman until 2005. He was also instrumental in the creation and start-up of LED Lighting Fixtures, Inc. which he co-founded in 2005 to accelerate the use of LEDs in general illumination applications and sold in 2008 for over $100M. In total, Mr. Hunter has been either co-founder, founder, co-founding investor or founding investor in over ten significant start-up ventures in the areas of semiconductor materials and devices, aesthetic materials, software, commercial and residential real estate, LED lighting systems and life sciences. Mr. Hunter’s proven expertise in technology transfer, from inception of innovations to the creation of market-changing products, has led to the transition to his new role as Managing Director of KnowBio, LLC, an RTP based incubator for platform based medical technology and biotechnology companies. Vast Therapeutics, Inc. and PhotonMD, Inc. are two companies that have emerged from the KNOW Bio platform.

Vast Therapeutics, a subsidiary of KNOW Bio, LLC, is an innovative, preclinical-stage pharmaceutical company focused on helping people who suffer from severe respiratory diseases to breath better and live life more fully. The Company is initially focused on developing a nitric oxide-based drug to treat cystic fibrosis patients battling chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. The Company anticipates submitting an investigational New Drug application and initiating First-in-Human clinical trials in 2019. More info available

KNOW Bio, LLC is a life science company focused on using its extensive intellectual property developed internally as well as licensed patents and applications in the field of nitric oxide across a vast majority of therapeutic applications to redefine the standard of care in a number of diseases and conditions. Corporate strategy involves forming subsidiaries to focus on specific diseases and conditions, assemble teams of experienced personnel in each and incentivize them to succeed by granting them equity in their respective subsidiary, with KNOW Bio retaining controlling ownership of each unless and until an appropriate opportunity for a subsidiary sale, IPO or other financing makes sense.