VT-1129 is a novel oral agent that we are developing for the treatment of cryptococcal meningitis, a life-threatening fungal infection of the brain and the spinal cord that occurs most frequently in patients with HIV infection, transplant recipients and oncology patients. Without treatment, the disease is almost always fatal.
VT-1129 has shown high potency and selectivity in in vitro studies and is an orally administered inhibitor of fungal CYP51, a metalloenzyme important in fungal cell wall synthesis. In preclinical studies, VT-1129 has demonstrated substantial potency against Cryptococcus species, the fungal pathogens that cause cryptoccocal meningitis, and has also been shown to accumulate to high concentrations within the central nervous system, the primary site of infection.
In in vitro studies, VT-1129 was significantly more potent against Cryptococcus isolates than fluconazole, which is commonly used for maintenance therapy of cryptococcal meningitis in the United States and as a primary therapy in the developing world. Oral VT-1129 has also been studied in a preclinical model of cryptococcal meningitis, where it was compared to fluconazole. At the conclusion of the study, there was no detectable evidence of Cryptococcus in the brain tissue of the high dose VT-1129 treated groups, in contrast to those groups treated with fluconazole. To our knowledge, this ability to reduce the Cryptococcus pathogen in the central nervous system to undetectable levels in this preclinical model is unique to VT-1129.
An estimated 3,400 hospitalizations related to cryptococcal meningitis occur annually in the United States and the FDA has granted orphan drug designation to VT-1129 for the treatment of this life-threatening disease. In addition, the FDA has granted Qualified Infectious Disease Product designation to VT-1129 for the treatment of Cryptococcus infections, which further underscores the unmet medical need. In developing regions such as Africa, cryptococcal meningitis is a major public health problem, with approximately one million cases and mortality rates estimated to be as high as 55-70%.
VT-1129 has received orphan drug and Fast Track designations for the treatment of cryptococcal meningitis and has been designated a Qualified Infectious Disease Product (QIDP) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. We are currently conducting a Phase 1 study of VT-1129 in healthy volunteers.