• Drug offers Potential against Pandemic Variants
    Peter Jackson

News & Views

Drug offers Potential against Pandemic Variants

Jun 26 2022

A breakthrough in laboratory trials of a new drug to treat COVID-19 and new variants of the disease, such as the Omicron variant has been announced by Infex.

The company’s COV-X program inhibits a new protease target responsible for viral replication across the broad spectrum of SARS-CoV-1, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. This new approach therefore is unaffected by changes to coronavirus spike protein that is causing concerns about vaccine effectiveness.

Exciting laboratory results have been able to identify new compounds with a balance of high potency and encouraging all-round properties including solubility, in-vitro metabolism, plasma-protein binding, and permeability – important factors in achieving oral bioavailability, the key behind producing a drug in tablet form rather than as a vaccine.

Dr Peter Jackson, Executive Director of Infex said: “These new compounds work by targeting a key protease essential for viral replication. The inhibitors we are developing will help meet a desperate clinical need for innovative anti-viral agents which are effective in treating breakthrough cases, unvaccinated and high-risk patients, leading to reduced hospitalisation and pressure on healthcare systems, and lower death rates.”

Dr Jackson added: “In the event of a new coronavirus threat emerging in the coming years, our new drug could also be administered as a precautionary measure to vulnerable groups including the elderly, immunocompromised people and healthcare workers, potentially greatly reducing the health risks until a bespoke vaccine is produced.”  

The next step in the COV-X program will be to fine tune the drug properties and establish safety, before clinical trials can be possible.  The company is looking to secure new Government funding and investment to fast-track the program towards clinical trials.

Dr Peter Jackson further commented: “The UK has been a leader in responding to the COVID-19 vaccine challenge but the impact of coronavirus is far from over and the emergence of Omicron underlines the importance of continued significant investment in programs such as COV-X that will help deliver new treatments that are badly needed.”

The Cov-X program is being delivered in in partnership with the University of Liverpool and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and supported by the Medicines Discovery Catapult at Alderley Park.

Infex Therapeutics is part of iiCON, the infectious disease innovation consortium led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and supported by the Strength in Places Fund.

More information online

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