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March 29, 2020
COVID-19 Drug Research Roundup
Below is a roundup of research activity on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. It is an update of a weekly column that CenterWatch Weekly will be featuring. To see last week’s column, click here.
- Dynavax and Clover Biopharmaceuticals have shaken hands on a research collaboration to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Clover, a Chinese-based firm, is currently conducting preclinical trials for its protein-based vaccine hopeful S-Trimer, while California-based Dynavax is tapping into its proprietary toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) agonist adjuvant, CpG 1018, the adjuvant used in its Heplisav-B, an adult hepatitis B vaccine.
- Ology Bioservices and Vanderbilt University Medical Center are working together, with the help of a $14 million Department of Defense (DOD) contract, to develop a monoclonal antibody aimed at both treating and preventing COVID-19 infection.
- Ology is also collaborating with Inovio Pharmaceuticals to manufacture Inovio’s DNA vaccine INO-4800 for prevention of COVID-19 infection. Inovio said its current mission is to scale up manufacturing of the vaccine, which it will ship to DOD for future trials and for emergency use if needed. DOD is currently aiding the two companies through an $11.9 million contract.
- iBio said that its COVID-19 vaccine program’s preclinical immunization studies are currently being conducted at Texas A&M’s University System laboratories through a joint development agreement. The two are working to rapidly produce virus-like particles — non-infectious molecules that imitate viruses — in the hopes of developing a vaccine candidate for trials.
- Researchers at four University of California medical centers have begun recruiting for a phase 2 clinical trial to investigate the safety and efficacy of Gilead’s novel antiviral remdesivir for treating adults with COVID-19. The trial will ultimately include approximately 440 participants and is expected to run until April 1, 2023.
- EUSA Pharma has started a clinical trial of siltuximab, an IL-6 targeted monoclonal antibody, to treat patients suffering from serious COVID-19 respiratory complications. Its primary endpoints are reduced need of invasive ventilation, time spent in ICU or 30-day mortality. It will include hospitalized patients prior to admission to an ICU and patients already in need of intensive care. Initial data is expected this month.
- Bold Therapeutics is inviting expressions of interest from other companies to help it develop its novel antiviral agent, BOLD-100, as a treatment for COVID-19. Bold 100 was originally developed for use in treating gastrointestinal cancers.
- CEL-SCI and the University of Georgia’s Center for Vaccines and Immunology are developing a COVID-19 immunotherapy using ligand antigen epitope presentation system (LEAPS) peptide technology. An immunotherapy candidate is being worked on to treat patients at highest risk of death from the virus.
- Algernon Pharmaceuticals has expanded the COVID-19 clinical trial program for its drug NP-120 (ifenprodil), an NDMA receptor antagonist, to include acute lung injury. The study looks to see if the drug can work as a treatment for COVID-19, chronic cough and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The drug has been approved in South Korea and Japan to treat certain neurological conditions and has a supply set aside for compassionate use for the most serious coronavirus patients.
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