Molecular Partners Confirms Ensovibep Retains Neutralization of Omicron Variant of SARS-CoV-2 in Preclinical Studies
ZURICH-SCHLIEREN, Switzerland and CONCORD, Mass., Dec. 12, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ad hoc announcement pursuant to Art. 53 LR:
Molecular Partners AG (SIX: MOLN; NASDAQ: MOLN), a clinical-stage biotech company developing a new class of custom-built protein drugs known as DARPin therapeutics, today announced that preclinical studies confirm that ensovibep maintains full neutralization of Omicron pseudoviruses that contain the identical mutations of the viral variant. In a panel of biologic drugs tested against the original (wild type) and Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2, ensovibep maintained a uniformly high neutralizing potency across wild type and Omicron variants, while substantial reduction in potency was observed for numerous antibody drugs, both approved and investigational.
“Omicron is the latest example of the pandemic’s continual evolution, with each variant potentially presenting new global threats, including reduction of the efficacy of approved vaccines and therapeutics,” said Patrick Amstutz, Ph.D., CEO of Molecular Partners. “Ensovibep was designed to hold up against such viral mutations, understanding that a multispecific approach should prove superior to the first generation of monoclonal antibodies, which had previously offered significant benefit. We believe that our antiviral DARPin is well positioned to continue to outcompete future viral mutations.”
The study design and results are intended for publication in an upcoming peer-reviewed journal. This data comes from studies conducted in collaboration with the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) in Switzerland and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States. Throughout its development, ensovibep has been consistently tested in vitro against all emerging variants of concern and variants of interest and has retained high potency against each.
Ensovibep is currently being evaluated in EMPATHY, a global Phase 2-3 study designed to explore and confirm the efficacy and safety of ensovibep for the treatment of COVID-19 in patients who are in the early stages of infection to prevent worsening of symptoms and hospitalization. Molecular Partners’ collaboration partner, Novartis, is conducting this clinical trial, with Molecular Partners as a sponsor. The Phase 2 portion of EMPATHY has enrolled patients across six countries. Topline data for the first 400 patients are expected in early 2022.
About ensovibep’s unique tri-specific mechanism designed to address viral variation:
By the merits of its design, ensovibep contains three individual DARPin domains which are highly neutralizing to SARS-CoV-2. When constructed into a single molecule, ensovibep protects against mutational burden through a process known as cooperative binding. The cooperative binding of all three DARPin domains allows potent binding on the spike protein. Even if one of the three binders loses some binding capacity due to a mutation, it is still strongly supported by the other binding domains. This unique mechanism is designed to allow ensovibep to efficiently protect against a multitude of variants.