Shanghai’s Everest Medicines Licenses COVID-19 Oral Antivirals from Singapore’s National Drug Discovery Platform
Shanghai-based Everest Medicines has obtained a global license for a series of oral antivirals from Singapore’s Experimental Drug Development Centre (EDDC), the country’s drug discovery platform. The drugs, which inhibit viral 3C-like (3CL) protease, have shown potent in vitro activity against viruses that cause Covid-19 and MERS.
The license includes full technology transfer and gives Everest the right to develop, produce and sell the drugs. It also allows Everest to further sub-license the drugs to other companies.
Under the deal, Everest will pay the EDDC an undisclosed sum upfront, as well as future milestones and net royalties on net product sales.
How Do 3CL Protease Inhibitors Work?
The most famous example of a 3CL protease inhibitor is perhaps nirmatrelvir, one half of Pfizer’s FDA-approved nirmatrelvir/ritonavir combo, a.k.a. Paxlovid.
The class of drugs mainly work by preventing viral replication through the inhibition of 3CL protease, the main protease in coronaviruses that processes polyproteins translated from viral RNA.
According to a press release, Everest claimed that the lead compound it is in-licensing, EDDC-2214, exhibits better in-vitro potency and preclinical oral bioavailability over “several other antivirals”. The company has said that it plans to take EDDC-2214 into clinical trials later this year.
Everest CEO Kerry Blanchard noted that EDDC-2214 and other 3CL protease inhibitors will complement the company’s Covid-19 vaccine program. Everest is developing Covid-19 mRNA vaccines in collaboration with Canada-based Providence Therapeutics. The companies last December received approval for their shot to be included in the WHO-sponsored Solidarity Trial Vaccines program.
EDDC, Singapore’s National Drug Discovery Platform
The EDDC is Singapore’s national drug discovery and development platform, hosted by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).
The centre focuses on developing treatments and vaccines for infectious diseases. EDDC has collaborated with public sector agencies to develop neutralizing antibodies against Covid-19.
During the outbreak of H1N1 influenza A virus around the world, the EDDC partnered with public and private organizations to launch Singapore’s first H1N1 influenza vaccine.
The EDDC also teamed up with Visterra Inc, a US biotech, to develop a monoclonal antibody against the dengue virus called VIS513. The antibody, along with Visterra’s entire pipeline, was acquired by Otsuka Pharmaceutical, a Japanese firm, for $430 million in 2018.
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