NEW YORK and AUSTIN, Texas—Cytovia Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing Natural Killer (NK) immunotherapies, announced today that it is expanding its programs to help address the current SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) crisis.
Natural Killer cells are a first line of defense, not only against tumor cells but also against severe acute infectious diseases. Using a bi-functional approach has the potential to minimize virus escape from the immune response, thus inhibiting the intensification of the inflammation leading to acute respiratory syndrome (ARS). The activation of NK cells through the NKp46 receptor aims to destroy the virus-infected cells, while the other arm can either block the entry of the virus into epithelial cells or neutralize circulating viruses.
“Our goal is to bring the best candidate to clinical trials by the end of the year 2020 and make it available to patients in 2021,” stated Dr. Daniel Teper, co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Cytovia. “As we become more prepared for potential next waves of the pandemic, physicians will need therapeutic options to strengthen the immune response and prevent rapid worsening of the disease. We expect that our novel approach might also be applied in the future to other severe acute infectious diseases, an area that still has significant unmet medical needs. Partnering with Macromoltek will fast-track this process.”
Cytovia plans to lead a highly coordinated team of scientific collaborators in order to achieve what the company terms “aggressive” timelines for its COVID-19 therapeutic program. Cytovia will use its proprietary bi-functional technology, developed by co-founder Dr. Kadouche. The team will also use NK activating antibodies recently licensed from Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and novel antibodies neutralizing or blocking SARS-CoV-2 which were designed by Macromoltek, Inc., a computational antibody discovery company. The selected bi-functional antibodies will also benefit from a “Speed-To-Clinic” approach by STC Biologics, a Boston, Massachusetts-based antibody development and manufacturing company.
“Our computational approach to antibody design allows to fast track the development of optimal therapeutic candidates in weeks, rather than months. In the fight against SARS-CoV-2, time is of the essence,” noted Dr. Monica Berrondo, co-founder and chief executive officer of Macromoltek. “We are delighted to be part of a multi-disciplinary team passionate about winning the race against the virus with novel therapeutic solutions.”