Healthcare Industry News: Biovest
News Release - April 20, 2006
National Survey of U.S. Otolaryngologists First to Measure Dissatisfaction with Current Treatments for Chronic SinusitisTAMPA, Fla.--(HSMN NewsFeed)--April 20, 2006--Accentia Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ABPI ) has completed the first national survey of U.S.-based ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) surgeons that assesses the prevalence and severity of chronic sinusitis (CS), including the level of dissatisfaction of these physicians with current treatments for the disease. Accentia will present the results of the survey, entitled "Burden of Chronic Sinusitis: Survey of U.S. Otolaryngologists," at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS).
"This survey highlights the large unmet need for effective treatments in chronic sinusitis," said Daniel Hamilos, M.D., Staff Physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School. "In my experience, 40% of the patients I see have had previous surgery. This study suggests a substantial number of these patients are surgery-refractory and still not well controlled. Surgery alone is not the solution to this problem."
CS results in about 18 to 22 million office-visits to physicians and 500,000 sinus surgeries each year in the U.S. alone. It is a debilitating disease with severe quality-of-life impairment on a par with that of patients with congestive heart failure. The symptoms include nasal congestion, thick mucous production and loss of smell. Currently, there is no approved pharmaceutical for CS, despite 31 million affected patients in the U.S.
"Ongoing research is essential for us to understand the debilitating effects of CS, as well as the role of treatments in clinical practice. These research endeavors have solidified our understanding of chronic sinusitis as a debilitating condition with significant negative impact on patient quality of life," said Dr. Angelos Stergiou, Accentia's Medical Director. "The seriousness of the disease, and the potential of SinuNase(TM) to become the first approved treatment for chronic sinusitis, led the Food and Drug Administration to recently grant Accentia Fast Track status for our SinuNase development program."
A potential blockbuster product for chronic sinusitis, SinuNase, an intranasal formulation of the antifungal amphotericin B, is expected to undergo Phase III clinical testing this summer.
About Chronic Sinusitis and SinuNase
Chronic sinusitis (CS), also known as chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), is one of the most common diseases suffered by Americans today, affecting an estimated 31 million patients in the U.S. CS is a chronic inflammatory disease of the nasal and sinus mucosa that persists for greater than three months. Long-term consequences include the formation of inflammatory polyps in the nose. The inflammation of CS results in symptoms such as nasal congestion, mouth breathing, nasal discharge and post-nasal drip. Patients often face recurrent bouts of acute bacterial sinusitis, characterized by fever, malaise and pain, requiring treatments with oral systemic antibiotics.
The diagnosis and treatment of CS, based on the history, nasal endoscopy and CT scan of the sinuses, remains challenging. There are, for example, no prescription pharmaceuticals, including any antibiotics, approved for this condition. In addition, the FDA has instructed manufacturers of over-the-counter (OTC) decongestant products claiming to treat sinus disease to remove the claims by April 2007. A major obstacle to the rational design of a laboratory diagnostic or prescription pharmaceutical has been the lack of a plausible theory of causation.
Accentia is commercializing a diagnostic as well as developing a treatment for CS, based on published technology developed at the Mayo Clinic. Investigators there reported that a ubiquitous, normally innocuous mold, Alternaria, colonizes the mucus of the nose and sinus of virtually everybody, but in patients with CS this non-invasive mold elicits an eosinophilic inflammatory response characterized by the release of eosinophilic major basic protein (MBP) in the mucus. The release of protein then damages the mucosal epithelial lining of the nose and sinuses, leading to the inflammatory mucosal changes characteristic of CS.
Based on these insights, investigators at Mayo developed a unique diagnostic for CS -- one that tests mucus from the nose for MBP. In patients with CS, investigators at Mayo reported that the MBP of mucus from the nose is elevated. In patients who have only seasonal or perennial allergic rhinitis, it is routinely undetectable. This diagnostic is available commercially as CRSFungal Profile(TM) from Accentia, intended as an adjunct to the clinical and radiological diagnosis of CS. More information on the diagnostic is available by calling the Company's laboratory partner, IMMCO, at 800-537-8378.
Also based on these insights, investigators at Mayo and elsewhere have published small clinical studies on the efficacy and safety of a low-dose antifungal, applied intranasally. In particular, they have reported on the use of a lavage of 0.01% Amphotericin B for the treatment of the symptoms and signs of CS. Because of the inciting role that the fungal antigen plays in the chronic inflammatory response of the mucosa, it appears that a muco-administered antifungal takes a few weeks to maximize response. In one published study from Geneva University, for example, intranasal amphotericin B 0.01% was applied for four weeks and, among patients with partial nasal obstruction from polyposis, about 50% had complete resolution of their polyps.
Accentia is now developing, under an IND (Investigational New Drug), a very-low-dose intranasal lavage formulation of Amphotericin B (SinuNase(TM)) for the treatment of the signs and symptoms of CS. The initial study population is comprised of refractory patients who have undergone sinus surgery for CS but are now struggling with recurrent CS. These four-month randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials are designed to test the efficacy and safety of this particular intranasal antifungal for this indication. One of the many reasons Accentia chose Amphotercin B is that it has very low absorption across mucus membranes, and in this rather unique situation the Company does not need absorption of the drug into the sinus mucosa or the rest of the body. According to this disease model, the drug's desired site of action is confined to the mucus layer.
About Accentia Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.
Accentia Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of late-stage clinical products in the therapeutic areas of respiratory disease and oncology. Two of these products are SinuNase(TM) and BiovaxID. The Company's SinuNase(TM) product, in development to treat chronic sinusitis (rhinosinusitis), is a novel application and formulation of a known anti-fungal licensed from the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. BiovaxID is a patient-specific anti-cancer vaccine focusing on the treatment of follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. BiovaxID, which is being developed by Accentia's subsidiary Biovest International, Inc., is currently in a Phase 3 clinical trial. In addition, Accentia's growing specialty pharmaceutical business, TEAMM Pharmaceuticals, has a portfolio of currently marketed products plus a pipeline of additional products under development by third parties. For further information, please visit our web site: www.accentia.net.
Statements in this release that are not strictly historical in nature constitute "forward-looking statements." Such statements include, but are not limited to, statements about SinuNase and any other statements relating to products, product candidates, product development programs the FDA or clinical trial process including the commencement, process or completion of clinical trials or the regulatory process. Such statements may include, without limitation, statements with respect to the Company's plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and other statements identified by words such as "may," "could," "would," "should," "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "estimates," "intends," "plans" or similar expressions. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause the actual results of Accentia to be materially different from historical results or from any results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These factors include, but are not limited to, risks and uncertainties related to the progress, timing, cost, and results of clinical trials and product development programs; difficulties or delays in obtaining regulatory approval for product candidates; competition from other pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies; and the additional risks discussed in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward looking statements are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement, and neither Accentia undertakes any obligation to revise or update this news release to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof.
Source: Accentia Biopharmaceuticals
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