Pharma Focus America

Tetra Collaborates with Cellvera to Develop a Potential Oral Combination Treatment for COVID-19 Patients

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Tetra Bio-Pharma Inc., a company specializing in cannabinoid-derived drug discovery and development, has announced a collaboration with Cellvera Global Holdings LLC ("Cellvera") for the co-development of ARDS-003 as a combination product with Qifenda 400MG (Favipiravir), a broad-spectrum antiviral drug.

In studies using the humanized ACE2 mouse model infected with SARS-CoV-2, ARDS-003 demonstrated a dose-dependent reduction in morbidity and mortality, including respiratory distress, compared to a placebo. ARDS-003 also outperformed an antiviral drug in reducing proinflammatory mediators (cytokines) associated with hyperinflammation and immune system dysfunction following viral infection. Other studies have shown that ARDS-003 inhibits viral replication in a dose-dependent manner.

Cellvera holds the rights to Favipiravir, a well-established and effective antiviral drug originally developed by FujiFilm Toyama Chemical Co and approved in Japan in 2014 for the treatment of pandemic influenza. Favipiravir selectively inhibits viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP) and exhibits potent antiviral activity against single-stranded RNA viruses, including coronaviruses. It targets the protein necessary for coronavirus replication, preventing the virus from replicating itself. Favipiravir is effective against various families of viruses, including coronaviruses (COVID, MERS, SARS), filoviruses (EBOLA, MARBURG), flaviviruses (ZIKA, WEST NILE, DENGUE), RABIES, NOROVIRUS, and others.

Preliminary studies on SARS-CoV-2 variants, such as Omicron and Delta, indicate that Favipiravir maintains its antiviral activity, suggesting the virus is unable to develop resistance to the drug even with prolonged exposure. Favipiravir remains a valuable asset in emergency preparedness strategies against the evolving COVID-19 virus and potential future pandemics. Clinical trials have demonstrated that Favipiravir leads to rapid viral clearance and can prevent hospitalization when administered early in the onset of symptoms.

Based on data from the AI-based in-silico drug discovery platform Prepaire, the parties hypothesize that a combination product of Favipiravir and ARDS-003 has the potential to provide rapid virus clearance and long-term benefits for patients. ARDS-003's ability to reduce cytokines may help prevent severe pulmonary inflammation associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Guy Chamberland, CEO and CRO at Tetra, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership, stating, "This collaboration with a pharmaceutical company with a global reach demonstrates the potential of the ARDS-003 drug asset. We are excited to work together with Cellvera to bring this combination drug product forward and improve treatment options for patients worldwide."

Mary O'Brien, CEO of Cellvera, emphasized the need for multiple treatment options in the face of the complexities of COVID-19. She stated, "By joining forces with Tetra, we hope to offer this additional treatment option to patients. This collaboration supports our strategy of developing combination therapies involving Qifenda (Favipiravir). We share a passion with Tetra for delivering innovative medicines to address this pandemic. Through our partnership with the Prepaire platform, we connect with like-minded experts from various sectors, enabling us to lead the way in transforming drug discovery and development through the application of machine learning.

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