Molecular Partners Demonstrates Reduction of Mortality and Potent Therapeutic Activity of Anti-COVID-19 DARPin® Candidates in Advanced COVID-19 Disease Model
Zurich-Schlieren, Switzerland, October 6, 2020. Molecular Partners AG (SIX: MOLN), a clinical-stage biotech company that is developing a new class of custom-built protein drugs known as DARPin® therapeutics, today announced supportive preclinical data from in vivo assessments of its DARPin® candidates targeting SARS-CoV-2. These candidates show robust activity in an aggressive viral challenge hamster model, supporting potential efficacy as therapeutic options in patients with late-stage disease.
In a highly susceptible COVID-19 challenge model developed by expert virologists at Freie Universität Berlin, hamsters were first infected with SARS-CoV-2 and then administered either select doses of the anti-COVID-19 DARPin® candidates, MP0420 or MP0423, or placebo, at either 0, 6, or 24 hours. In the five-day experiment, all animals treated with DARPin® molecules recovered and survived, while 83% of animals in the placebo group had to be euthanized due to severe disease progression.
“The clinical efficacy observed in both prophylactic and post exposure settings, especially in the context of the severity of disease displayed by our novel COVID-19 model, holds promise for this class of virus-neutralizing inhibitors in later line settings,” said Jakob Trimpert, DVM, Ph.D., Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of Virology, who served as lead investigator of the study.
“These recent data underscore the potent mechanism of action of our DARPin® therapeutic candidates in both prophylactic and therapeutic animal models, opening the door for clinical trials in both settings. We now have evidence that our candidates may offer therapeutic benefit for patients receiving intensive care or in rapid decline,” said Patrick Amstutz, chief executive officer of Molecular Partners. “We would like to thank our collaborators in Berlin for pioneering this novel hamster model to test COVID therapies. This model might be the only one that mimics a severe disease progression in humans, as most hamsters become terminally ill as early as day two after viral infection.”
First-in-human studies for MP0420 are anticipated to begin in November 2020, and clinical studies for the second antiviral candidate, MP0423, are expected to initiate in H1 2021.