Chronicle Journal: Finance

Researchers Identify Potent Infection-Blocking Antibodies In Race For COVID-19 Vaccine

PALM BEACH, Fla., July 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- As the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 continues, researchers are working at unprecedented speed to produce new treatments and vaccines. Much work has focused on studying antibodies from the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. Antibodies are molecules that are produced by the immune system to fight infection. Some research teams are testing whether antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 could be isolated and given as a treatment to others who are infected. Others are studying the structure and function of different antibodies to help guide the development of vaccines. A recent article from the National Institutes of Health discussed this issue saying: "SARS-CoV-2 particles have proteins called spikes protruding from their surfaces. These spikes latch onto human cells, then undergo a structural change that allows the viral membrane to fuse with the cell membrane. The viral genes then enter the host cell to be copied and produce more viruses. Several potential vaccines now under development are designed to trigger the human body to produce antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Antibodies that recognize and bind to the spike protein will hopefully block the virus from infecting human cells." Active biotech companies with recent developments include: Nascent Biotech, Inc. (OTCQB: NBIO), MediciNova, Inc. (NASDAQ: MNOV), OPKO Health, Inc. (NASDAQ: OPK), Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: INO), Ampio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE: AMPE).

The article continued: "To better understand antibodies against the spike protein that are naturally produced after an infection, a team led by Drs. Davide Robbiani and Michel Nussenzweig at the Rockefeller University studied 149 people who had recovered from COVID-19 and volunteered to donate their blood plasma. The participants had started experiencing symptoms of the virus an average of 39 days before sample collection. The study was funded in part by NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Results were published on June 18, 2020, in Nature."

Nascent Biotech, Inc. (OTCQB: NBIO) BREAKING NEWS: Nascent Biotech Announces Collaboration with Syracuse University - Advancing COVID-19 Research - Nascent Biotech (the "Company" or "Nascent") announced today it has entered into a research collaboration with Syracuse University to further the development of Pritumumab, a unique monoclonal antibody that binds to cell-surface vimentin, for potential use in COVID-19 treatment.

Alison Patteson, an assistant professor of physics at Syracuse University, will test to see if Pritumumab has the potential to block SARS-CoV-2 (SARS2), the virus responsible for COVID-19, from entering cells. According to Patteson, research shows that SARS2 may be traveling into cells by way of a receptor known as cell-surface vimentin (CSV). This ia a protein found on the cell surface, similar to vimentin, which is a key internal structural protein present in many cell types. Vimentin is known for its cage-like structure which protects the cell against damage..

"Our hope is that when we treat cells with Pritumumab, it will bind to CSV, and effectively block the SARS2 virus from entering the cell," says Patteson. "An antibody that could block the entry of SARS2 into the cell could be a monumental step in the fight against COVID-19."

Patteson will test the hypothesis on mouse embryo fibroblast cells and lung airway epithelial cells to determine if the antibody will block the uptake of SARS2. Using a cell in which vimentin has been knocked out, the results will provide an important control of Pritumumab effects.

Nascent Biotech Chief Medical Officer over Viral Research, Dr. Navpaul Singh said, "This collaboration will determine if Pritumumab can effectively block SARS2 in an animal mouse model.  It will also gauge Pritumumab's ability to bind vimentin in a live model."  Read this entire press release and more news for NBIO at: https://www.financialnewsmedia.com/news-nbio

Other industry developments from around the markets include:

MediciNova, Inc. (NASDAQ: MNOVrecently announced an agreement with BioComo (President: Masayuki Fukumura, Mie prefecture, Japan) and Mie University (Mie prefecture, Japan) for joint development of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine using BC-PIV, a human parainfluenza virus type 2 vector developed by BioComo and Tetsuya Nosaka, M.D., Ph.D., professor of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Mie University Graduate School of Medicine. MediciNova has been granted exclusive worldwide development rights to use BC-PIV for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development from BioComo and Mie University.

BC-PIV, an innovative non-transmissible viral vector co-developed by BioComo and Mie University, is derived from the recombinant human parainfluenza virus type 2 (hPIV2).  It is highly efficient in its ability to transfer multiple foreign proteins to recipients and has a strong safety profile as no secondary infectious virus is produced. BC-PIV is designed to display not only the gene but also the foreign protein itself on the surface and inside of the viral membrane. Therefore, it can carry the large membrane proteins of viruses and signal transduction receptors/ligand proteins on the viral surface. BC-PIV is able to carry the proteins that require a proper three-dimensional structure or multimeric structure while maintaining the structure. BC-PIV elicits good immunogenicity against antigen proteins without adjuvants. The SARS-CoV-2 vaccine prototype has been developed to include the specific SARS-CoV-2 antigen protein in order to express maximum antigenicity. To date, BioComo has succeeded in producing a recombinant Ebola virus vaccine and a Respiratory Syncytial virus prefusion F vaccine (unpublished data) using this BC-PIV platform technology.

OPKO Health, Inc. (NASDAQ: OPKrecently announced it will accept an Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract award to provide Commercial Surge Capacity Testing for COVID-19 Emergency Response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Under the contract with the CDC, BioReference will perform antibody testing to determine COVID-19 seroprevalence, and will provide results with key demographic information and analysis in collaboration with the CDC. The agreement's period of performance began July 20, 2020, and is ongoing through November 19, 2020.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: INOrecently announced positive interim clinical data of INO-4800, its vaccine candidate against novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), from the first two Phase 1 clinical trial cohorts. In addition, INO-4800 has been selected to participate in a non-human primate (NHP) challenge study as part of the U.S. government's Operation Warp Speed, a new national program aiming to provide substantial quantities of safe, effective vaccine for Americans by January 2021. Furthermore, INOVIO has expanded its Phase 1 trial to add older participants in additional cohorts and plans to initiate a Phase 2/3 efficacy trial this summer upon regulatory concurrence.

Dr. J. Joseph Kim, President and CEO of INOVIO, said, "INOVIO would like to thank all of the trial participants and the investigator staff who have made this trial possible. We are very encouraged by the positive interim safety and preliminary cellular and humoral immune response results to date as well as the inclusion of INO-4800 in Operation Warp Speed. We are also pleased that INO-4800 vaccination abrogated viral replication in the lungs of mice challenged with SARS-CoV-2. We look forward to urgently advancing INO-4800, as it is the only nucleic-acid based vaccine that is stable at room temperature for more than a year and does not require to be frozen in transport or for years of storage, which are important factors when implementing mass immunizations to battle the current pandemic."

Ampio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE: AMPE) is actively working on the development of therapies for patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus ("COVID-19"). Patients are being dosed in a Phase 1 United States based clinical trial evaluating a 5-day intravenous ("IV") Ampion treatment for COVID-19 patients requiring supplemental oxygen. The primary endpoint for this randomized, controlled study will evaluate the safety and tolerability of IV Ampion treatment in adult COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen supplementation. 

Ampion is an immunomodulatory anti-inflammatory agent that has been shown to inhibit the expression of proinflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα), by repressing their transcription. Proinflammatory cytokines like TNFα are believed to play a key role in the overactive inflammatory response, or cytokine storm, in the lungs of COVID-19 patients who require supplemental oxygen. Ampion may be effective in interrupting the inflammatory cascade associated with COVID-19 and improve the clinical course and outcome of patients. A manuscript detailing this mechanism of action titled, "The novel immunomodulatory biologic LMWF5A (Ampion) for pharmacological attenuation of the 'cytokine storm' in COVID-19 patients: a hypothesis", has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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