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Aridis Pharmaceuticals’ Antibody Shows Early Promise in the Fight Against COVID-19
On July 26th, Aridis Pharmaceuticals announced AR-711, a monoclonal antibody part of their therapeutic cocktail, was among the most effective at neutralizing COVID-19 in data reported by the Coronavirus Immunotherapeutics Consortium (CoVIC).
The COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet. The US has reported over 50,000 cases in the last three days, and the 7-day average is still increasing. This increase in cases is driven by the Delta variant, which is one of the most contagious respiratory diseases known to man.
The development of safe and effective vaccines was a turning point in the pandemic. However, only 49.2% of the total US population is fully vaccinated. This leaves half of the country susceptible to contracting the virus. People infected are at risk of hospitalization and severe complications. For this reason, new and effective therapeutics are still necessary to help infected people.
Fighting Bacterial and Viral Illnesses
Based in California, Aridis Pharmaceuticals specializes in the discovery and development of treatments against bacterial and viral illnesses. They use their proprietary ʎPEX and MabIgX platforms to identify B-cells, the cells responsible for antibody production, from convalescent serum. The goal is to produce potent monoclonal antibodies for therapeutic use.
This approach offers some key advantages:
- These are human antibodies,
- They are optimized for efficiency by the donor’s immune system,
- They don’t need to be genetically engineered or further optimized.
Aridis’ most advanced therapeutic is AR-301, currently in Phase 3 clinical trials to treat gram-positive bacteria, S. aureus. This bacterium can cause life-threatening infections such as ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).
Their second most advanced therapeutic is Suvratoxumab, a monoclonal antibody against gram-positive bacteria S. aureus. Aridis announced it had licensed Suvratoxumab from AstraZeneca on July 19th. This treatment is ready to begin Phase 3 clinical trials for the prevention of S. aureus VAP. Aridis paid $11 million in cash and Aridis common stock, and AstraZeneca could receive up to $115 million more based on milestones.
Additionally, Aridis is developing therapeutics against P. aeruginosa, A. baumannii, respiratory syncytial virus, and COVID-19.
Aridis vs. COVID-19
Aridis is currently developing AR-712 as a self-administered, at-home inhaled treatment for COVID-19. It consists of two monoclonal human antibodies that target the receptor-binding region of the spike protein. They have shown that AR-712 binds to the Delta variant, and it is predicted to bind to other variants of interest highlighted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Additionally, AR-711, one of the antibodies in AR-712, was tested in three different neutralization assays by the CoVIC consortium. Out of more than 350 antibodies tested, it was in the top 10% that were most effective. Furthermore, in an animal model, AR-711 was one of the top 5 most potent antibodies, and it protected the animals.
These are promising results for Aridis, but AR-712 is still at the IND application stage. Also, antibody therapies for COVID-19 treatment have been controversial. A notable example is Eli Lilly’s antibody combo of bamlanivimab and etesevimab, which was halted nationwide back in June due to a lack of activity against the Gamma and Beta variants.
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