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Cempra Pharmaceuticals Presents New Data on Its Multi-Drug Resistant Anti-Infective Portfolio, Solithromycin (CEM-101) and TAKSTA(TM) (CEM-102), at The 48th Annual Meeting of The Infectious Diseases Society Of America

-- Mechanism of telithromycin toxicity is proposed to be due to its inhibition of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors; the novel fluoroketolide, solithromycin, like older macrolides does not exhibit the same degree of receptor inhibition

-- Solithromycin is active against ketolide-resistant S. pneumoniae strains

-- TAKSTA (sodium fusidate) demonstrated potent activity against more than seven thousand S. aureus strains isolated from 51 U.S. hospitals

CHAPEL HILL, N.C., Oct. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Cempra Pharmaceuticals today announced poster presentations on its novel fluoroketolide antibiotic, solithromycin (CEM-101), and the Company's proprietary front-loading oral dosing regimen of sodium fusidate, TAKSTA (CEM-102) at the 48th Annual Meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in Vancouver, British Columbia. All presentations are scheduled for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. PDT on Friday, October 22.

Solithromycin (CEM-101)

The emergence of serious adverse events with the ketolide antibiotic, telithromycin (Ketek®), has created an impediment for the development of next-generation macrolide antibiotics, as the underlying mechanisms of these off-target effects were not known. Uniquely amongst the macrolides, telithromycin contains a pyridine moiety in its chemical structure. Bertrand et al. (Abst. # 252) hypothesized that the so-called "Ketek effects", such as myasthenia gravis exacerbations, visual disturbances, and acute liver toxicity, could be caused by an interaction of this pyridine moiety with nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

The investigators expressed several subtypes of nicotinic receptors in a Xenopus oocyte expression model. They found that telithromycin inhibited ganglionic alpha-3-beta-4 and alpha-7 nicotinic receptors at an IC50 of 0.15 micromolar, which is a concentration that can be reached clinically. Other tested macrolides, azithromycin, clarithromycin, and the new fluoroketolide, solithromycin (CEM-101), had little activity at these receptors and all lack the pyridine side-chain. These results suggest that the interactions of telithromycin's pyridine moiety with both peripheral and central acetylcholine receptors may account for the serious adverse events seen with this ketolide. The highly potent fluoroketolide candidate, solithromycin, is not likely to exhibit similar toxicities as it lacks the pyridine side-chain and does not show significant inhibition of these receptors.

In addition, solithromycin has three binding sites on the bacterial ribosome compared to either one or two sites with other macrolides. This additional binding site is believed to strengthen ribosomal binding interactions and, thereby, minimize the potential for resistance development when compared with other macrolides. In a second presentation, Farrell et al. (Abst. # 251) investigated the activity of solithromycin against telithromycin-resistant strains of S. pneumoniae. Ketolide resistance is rare and has been associated with mutations in the region of the chromosome that controls erm(B) gene expression, one of the genes known to cause macrolide resistance. The investigators evaluated 2,123 S. pneumoniae strains from patients with community-acquired bacterial pneumonia in 23 countries. Only five resistant isolates were identified and all mutations were found on the chromosome upstream from the erm(B) gene. Solithromycin was active against all five resistant isolates, with MICs ranging from 0.06 to 0.25 micrograms/mL, indicating that the compound may be an excellent candidate in treating community-acquired bacterial pneumonia including those caused by macrolide-resistant strains.

TAKSTA™ (CEM-102, fusidic acid)

Fusidic acid is a highly potent oral antibiotic used clinically for several decades in Europe, Canada and Australia to treat a variety of skin, bone, and joint infections. The product is in clinical development in the U.S. for the treatment of acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections (aBSSSI). TAKSTA employs a novel PK/PD-based dosing regimen that aims to maximize efficacy and broaden its spectrum, as well as minimize the potential for resistance development.

Castanheira et al. (Abst. # 226) tested the activity of fusidic acid against more than 7,300 S. aureus isolates collected from 51 hospitals in the U.S. in 2008 and 2009. The investigators found that fusidic acid inhibited 99.6% of tested strains at <1 microgram>

"Cempra is focused on developing antibiotics for challenging infections," said Prabhavathi Fernandes, president and chief executive officer of Cempra. "These studies add to the growing safety and activity profiles of our two leading candidates, both of which are in clinical development. The studies with solithromycin are particularly encouraging. The Bertrand presentation identifies the potential cause of telithromycin toxicity and therefore helps to alleviate safety concerns with future ketolide antibiotics including the fluoroketolide, solithromycin. The Farrell study adds to the evidence suggesting that solithromycin will be a valuable therapeutic option, particularly against macrolide-resistant S. pneumoniae strains. Finally, the excellent activity profile of TAKSTA against U.S. S. aureus strains further indicates its potential value as an oral option to treat aBSSSI in the U.S."

About solithromycin (CEM-101)

Solithromycin is the first fluoroketolide with a number of attributes that may provide clinically important advantages over comparator products:

8 to 16 times more potent than azithromycin and is active against organisms that have become resistant to azithromycin
Potent in vitro activity against all important respiratory pathogens, including pneumococci, β-hemolytic streptococci, staphylococci, Hemophilus, Legionella, Mycoplasma, Moraxella and Chlamydophila
Potent in vitro activity against other medically significant pathogens including CA-MRSA, M. avium, malaria, enterococci and gonococci
Good tolerability to date, as demonstrated in phase 1 trials of the oral formulation
Low resistance frequency observed in vitro
Unlike telithromycin, solithromycin does not inhibit the alpha-7 acetylcholine nicotinic receptor; this inhibition is believed to be responsible for certain adverse effects observed with telithromycin (Ketek®)
Excellent tissue distribution and intracellular tissue concentrations including lung epithelial lining fluid and alveolar macrophages
Oral and IV formulations concurrently in development
Once-daily dosing
Potential for indications beyond CABP, including urethritis and other urogenital infections, bioterrorism targets, malaria, M. avium infections and tuberculosis

The annual incidence for CABP in the United States is over five million, of which over 1 million are hospitalized (File, T.M., Lancet, 2003; File, T.M. and Tan, J.S. JAMA, 2005; CDC, National Hospital Discharge Survey, 2006; File, T.M. and Marrie, T. Postgrad. Med., 2010). There is a growing need for new drugs to address the issues, with currently available treatments, of drug resistance, tolerability, and IV only administration.


TAKSTA, (sodium fusidate) is a novel class of antibiotic with an established history of safety and efficacy outside the United States. TAKSTA is being developed as an NCE in the U.S for aBSSSI. Clinical trials with TAKSTA employ a proprietary front-loading oral regimen designed to increase potency, increase coverage and minimize resistance development. Cempra believes that TAKSTA will be an important addition to anti-MRSA therapies based on the following:

Sodium fusidate is orally active against gram-positive bacteria, including all S. aureus strains such as HA-MRSA and CA-MRSA
TAKSTA employs a novel and proprietary PK-PD-based dosing regimen of sodium fusidate that optimizes efficacy and minimizes the risk of resistance development
Sodium fusidate is the only compound within the fusidane class and therefore is unlikely to select for cross-resistance to other classes of antibiotics
Sodium fusidate's safety has been well documented even when used for long periods of time (over one year) to treat osteomyelitis and other serious infections
Sodium fusidate has been used safely in children, including neonates, in countries where it is marketed

About 60 to 80 percent of the 13 million acute skin and skin structure infections that occur in the U.S. each year are infected with MRSA. There is a growing need for an oral anti-MRSA drug that is safe, effective and can be used for long-term administration.

About Cempra Pharmaceuticals

Founded in 2006, Cempra Pharmaceuticals is a privately-held, clinical-stage pharmaceutical company focused on developing antibacterials to address critical medical needs. Two lead products, both in late-stage clinical trials, address the urgent and increasing need for new treatments targeting drug-resistant bacterial infections in the hospital and in the community. Cempra is well-funded and is committed to developing commercially and medically differentiated and novel products that reduce development risk and provide a high financial return. The company is also utilizing its proprietary compound library and chemistry technology to develop novel macrolides without antibacterial activity for non-antibiotic uses such as COPD, chronic inflammatory and GI disorders. Additional information about Cempra can be found at

Media Contacts:

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Russo Partners, LLC

(212) 845-4226

Tony Russo, Ph.D.

Russo Partners, LLC

(212) 845-4251



SOURCE Cempra Pharmaceuticals


Posted: October 2010