AB Science and University of Chicago to develop Covid-19 drugs

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AB Science SA, together with the University of Chicago, announces the signing of an exclusive licensing agreement for conducting research on the prevention and treatment of humans infected with nidoviruses, coronaviruses and picornaviruses.

This collaboration follows the discovery by the University of Chicago that masitinib inhibits the main protease (3CLpro) necessary for the SARS-CoV-2 viral replication cycle.

Under this agreement, AB Science will supply masitinib and more than 130 other AB Science proprietary drugs that have demonstrated activity against SARS-CoV-2 main protease 3CL-Pro via virtual screening methodology, and will benefit from the proprietary research platform of the University of Chicago.

The University of Chicago will perform the following research activities:

Enhance the preclinical program of masitinib against SARS-CoV-2
Initiate investigation with masitinib against other viruses that are dependent on protease 3CL-Pro for replication
Test and identify analogues of masitinib active against SARS-CoV-2 protease 3CL-Pro

To secure and consolidate patent positions, AB Science and the University of Chicago will merge their patent rights related to masitinib or masitinib analogues related to virology applications. The University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation worked with the researchers to file the associated patents and then completed the license agreement with AB Science.

In case of commercialization in viral disease, AB Science will benefit from an exclusive, royalty-bearing license on any discoveries made with AB Science products (1% of net sales on first registered product and 0.3% of net sales on further registered product to be paid to the University of Chicago).

Dr Nir Drayman, researcher at the Pritzker School for Molecular Engineering (University of Chicago) said, “We are delighted to work with AB Science on this global program. The discovery of masitinib as an anti-protease against multiple coronaviruses is a major discovery. Masitinib should be a priority drug to develop against COVID-19 and future emerging viruses. Unfortunately, this pandemic is not over and the world urgently needs anti-virals to combat this virus, and masitinib is a very promising candidate”.

Professor Savas Tay, principal investigator of the 3CLpro inhibitor study and author of the article (Pritzker School for Molecular Engineering, University of Chicago) said. “In a context where we face the emergence of a number of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, the development of efficacious anti-viral therapeutics is urgently needed. Because masitinib specifically targets the catalytic residues of 3CLpro, its anti-viral activity is likely to be insensitive to genetic alterations of the Spike protein. Thus, masitinib constitutes a uniquely valuable therapeutic option for both ancestral SARS-CoV-2 and variants against which vaccines or monoclonal antibodies may become less or not effective. This is why we are extremely pleased to collaborate with AB Science and eager to continue our research with masitinib and analogues of masitinib”.

“Collaboration is necessary for the rapid development of new drugs in the fight against this pandemic. We are proud to collaborate in all aspects with the School for Molecular Engineering of the University of Chicago, one of the best research centers in the world. Our ultimate objective in Covid19 is to deliver as soon as possible a drug that is a direct antiviral against the protease of the virus” said Alain Moussy, cofounder and CEO of AB Science.

Professor Olivier Hermine, President of the Scientific Committee of AB Science and member of the Académie des Sciences in France said, “Masitinib could represent an important therapeutic option against SARS-CoV-2 because of its dual mechanism of action. First, masitinib targets the protease, which is a validated scientific strategy to inhibit virus replication, the efficacy of which is not dependent on the emergence of new variants whose mutations primarily affect the virus spike protein but not the protease catalytic site, and second, masitinib bears anti-inflammatory properties that could reduce the cytokine storm”.

About masitinib
Masitinib is a new orally administered tyrosine kinase inhibitor that targets mast cells and macrophages, important cells for immunity, through inhibiting a limited number of kinases. Based on its unique mechanism of action, masitinib can be developed in a large number of conditions in oncology, in inflammatory diseases, and in certain diseases of the central nervous system. In oncology due to its immunotherapy effect, masitinib can have an effect on survival, alone or in combination with chemotherapy. Through its activity on mast cells and microglia and consequently the inhibition of the activation of the inflammatory process, masitinib can have an effect on the symptoms associated with some inflammatory and central nervous system diseases and the degeneration of these diseases.

About AB Science
Founded in 2001, AB Science is a pharmaceutical company specializing in the research, development and commercialization of protein kinase inhibitors (PKIs), a class of targeted proteins whose action are key in signaling pathways within cells. Our programs target only diseases with high unmet medical needs, often lethal with short term survival or rare or refractory to previous line of treatment.
AB Science has developed a proprietary portfolio of molecules and the Company’s lead compound, masitinib, has already been registered for veterinary medicine and is developed in human medicine in oncology, neurological diseases, and inflammatory diseases.