COVID-19 Drug Research Roundup
Below is a roundup of research activity on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments for the past week. To see last week’s column, click here.
Pfizer announced that a U.S. clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate will start as soon as this week. The first cohort of patients has already been dosed in a separate phase 1/2 trial being conducted in Germany in collaboration with BioNTech.
Merck has entered into a research collaboration with the Institute for Systems Biology to research the mechanisms of coronavirus infection and identify targets for vaccines and treatments. The company said their findings will be shared globally to feed into other scientific research.
Clover Biopharmaceuticals’ Australia subsidiary has partnered with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) and will receive an initial $3.5 million in development funding for its COVID-19 S-Trimer vaccine candidate. The funding will support preparation and initiation of an Australian phase 1 trial.
AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford have announced an agreement to develop the university’s ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine candidate. Under the agreement, AZ will handle development, global manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine hopeful. The candidate recently entered phase 1 trials where it will be tested on healthy patients aged 18 to 55. Data from the trial could be available this month, the drugmaker said.
Shionogi subsidiary UMN Pharma is currently developing a potential COVID-19 vaccine based on recombinant proteins with support from Japan’s Agency for Medical Research and Development. Trials are slated to start in Japan later this year.
Sarepta Therapeutics has partnered with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases to find potential COVID-19 treatments. Under the partnership, Sarepta will provide phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers (PMOs) — synthetic compounds that have shown potential as treatments for various diseases, including viral infections.
Scancell has begun research on a DNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. The company said it hopes to use T-cell responses to fight the virus and expects to begin a phase 1 clinical trial in the first quarter of 2021.
Gilead reported positive results from its phase 3 trial of remdesivir. According to trial results, patients on a five-day regimen of the drug saw clinical improvements similar to those on the 10-day treatment schedule, the company said.
Similarly, the National Institutes of Health reported that data from its trial of remdesivir shows the drug “has a clear-cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery” for COVID-19 patients.
Amazon has given Columbia University $2.5 million in funding for its clinical trial of a potential COVID-19 plasma therapy. The university is conducting the 450-patient study to see if the therapy is able to effectively prevent COVID-19 infections and treat severe patients.
Yale University has begun a clinical trial of MN-166 (ibudilast), an asthma drug, to gauge its effectiveness in treating severe COVID-19 patients. The trial will evaluate the drug in treating acute respiratory distress syndrome and will be run with help from California-based MedicNova, the drug’s developer.
Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research is researching famotidine, the active ingredient in the heartburn drug Pepcid, as a potential COVID-19 treatment. The trial, which began in March, has enrolled more than 150 patients and could produce results “within a few weeks,” according to a spokesperson for the institutes.
Quotient Sciences and CytoAgents have teamed up to speed development of a COVID-19 cytokine storm treatment. The partnership will involve rapid development of CytoAgents’ lead coronavirus treatment candidate GP1681 for phase 1 and 2 trials this year.
Innate Pharma has dosed its first COVID-19 patient in a phase 2 trial of its investigational cancer drug avdoralimab. The 108-patient trial aims to increase the proportion of patients who no longer require hospitalization and to reduce dependence on ventilation in patients with pneumonia complicated by acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Vicore Pharma has received approval from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency for a phase 2 trial of its proprietary compound, VP01, an angiotensin II receptor type 2 (AT2R) agonist, in COVID-19 patients. The study will involve approximately 100 patients with moderately severe infections that require respiratory support but not mechanical ventilation.
BerGenBio’s investigational cancer treatment bemcentinib was picked as the first potential COVID-19 treatment for a phase 2 study through the UK’s Accelerating COVID-19 Research & Development (ACCORD) platform. The company will provide the compound and resources for the trial and estimates the first results becoming available in a few months.