23 March, 2020

Anti-viral drug discovery initiative

The current Covid-19 pandemic is the greatest challenge to our society in a generation. If we do nothing, its consequences will be devastating.

Not only in terms of the mortality/hospitalisation rates and the pressure on our healthcare systems associated with this, but because of the existential threat to society's infrastructure on which our wider wellbeing depends. The government's medical and scientific advisors are of the view that effective vaccines are at least a year away, new drugs perhaps much longer. The most valuable currency in the fight against this virus is time. Any effort which allows us to buy time to develop definitive treatments is critical. 

There is an ethical obligation for any organisation in a position to help with this effort to come forward and make itself known. At e-therapeutics we have a technology platform that is capable of being deployed to carry out rapid in silicophenotypic screening. We have successfully leveraged this to find active compounds capable of protecting human cells in influenza. These compounds work though their impact on the networks of interacting proteins underlying the host cell processes on which the virus depends for its life cycle.

We believe that the same strategies employed in our work on influenza could be used to identify combinations of compounds with useful activity against Sars-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19. Such combinations would be an essential part of the effort to mitigate the impact of Covid-19. Importantly, these possible drug combinations would consist of currently approved and known drugs. This would reduce concerns around the possible risks of targeting host cell biology and causing unacceptable adverse effects. 

We have the capability to carry out such in silico screening in a matter of weeks and indeed have already begun this process. However, in order to test the outputs in appropriate cellular systems as quickly as possible, we would require the help of established partners with relevant assays for Sars-CoV-2. We would also need help with additional experimental work (e.g. proteomic studies) that might enhance this project with additional data.

We have therefore begun business development efforts across the pharmaceutical industry to gauge interest in making such capacity available collaboratively for the greater good. We would ask that any potential partner reading this release, whether industrial, governmental or academic, that has complementary resource and expertise to make contact with us to explore ways in which we can progress.

We feel very strongly that we must make explicit the following. It is not our intention to make a frivolous press release that capitalises on a global crisis to inflate our share price artificially or to create unrealistic expectations. We are motivated solely by a recognition that we have a platform, validated by our influenza work, and other projects, that has the potential to have an impact and we feel ethically obligated to make this known. 

Prospective partners can find a copy of our influenza project summary on our website at https://www.etherapeutics.co.uk/media/1237/covid-19_ndd_overview.pdf or can contact us on bd@etherapeutics.co.uk.