Nocion Therapeutics has a new Chief Medical Officer, and not too soon. Christopher Silber, MD, arrives as a company shoot his first clinical program: an inhalation treatment for chronic and acute cough that could prove useful against COVID-19.
The company was working on cough and itch treatments when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He realized that reducing the cough could help in several ways – not only would it treat a symptom that can be “traumatic and debilitating”, but it can also reduce the spread of disease between patients and hospital staff. , family or roommates.
The study is testing NOC-100, an inhaled version of Nocion’s main program, NTX-1175, in healthy people. The UK Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency has granted Nocion a quick approval last month for the drug’s Phase 1 study, accelerating its transition to a clinical stage company.
NTX-1175 is a loaded sodium channel blocker designed to work more generally than other cough treatments, which target specific receptors. Nocion’s approach targets nociceptors, neurons that send signals of pain or itching when inflamed. Its drugs enter these nociceptors through ion channels called large pore channels that open when they are inflamed – that is, when something causes them to send a signal of pain or itching.
It’s like using a Trojan horse to get drug molecules into cells, Bruce Bean, Ph.D., one of the co-founders of Nocion, said when the company launched last year.
Unlike drugs targeting specific receptors, such as the P2X3 antagonist by Merck, gefapixant, Nocion can widely target cough, regardless of the ducts that cause it. Nocion’s drug could be used beyond COVID-19 for people with chronic cough or postviral cough after recovering from another respiratory illness, such as the flu. And, of course, that would help if another pandemic like COVID-19 strikes.
Nocion’s new CMO comes from Sage Therapeutics, where he led clinical development.
“I am delighted to join Nocion at this point in the company’s growth, and look forward to helping Nocion realize the enormous potential of this new platform to create unique therapies to treat common conditions such as that cough, atopic dermatitis and pain across a spectrum of disorders, ”Silber said in the release.