A St Andrews University spin out company has raised £4 million to allow clinical tests on a revolutionary drug that could prevent and treat Covid-19.
Pneumagen (Holdings) Ltd specialises on treating infectious diseases and wants to pursue the clinical development of Neumifil, which it claims could transform the treatment of respiratory tract infections (RTI).
Neumifil works by masking glycan receptors in a person’s airways, blocking the coronavirus’ path into the lungs.
The firm said the drug has the potential to provide patients “total protection” against respiratory pathogens including emerging viruses with pandemic potential.
The investment was led by Thairm Bio with additional investment from the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) to allow clinical trials.
Douglas Thomson, chief executive of Pneumagen, said: “I am delighted that Thairm has chosen to support our ambitious development programme to test the efficacy of Neumifil against Covid-19 in humans, planned in the first half of 2021.
“The continued support from the Scottish Investment Bank will ensure that this is achieved and will further support Neumifil as a universal drug for RTIs that now includes Covid-19.”
Neumifil is a first-in-class carbohydrate binding modules, generated using the company’s proprietary platform.
It is being developed for the universal treatment of respiratory tract infections (RTIs) caused by influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus, and now coronaviruses including SARS-CoV-2, the cause of Covid-19.
The testing, conducted at Public Health England’s (PHE) Porton facility and the University of Glasgow’s MRC Centre for Virus Research, demonstrated efficacy in inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Mark Bamforth at Thairm said: “We are pleased to be able to back the development of Pneumagen’s exciting portfolio in respiratory tract infections.
“We believe that this approach could provide particular benefit as a protection pan-viral treatment for RTIs including pandemic viruses, such as Covid-19.”
Kerry Sharp, director at Scottish Investment Bank, added: “Scientists globally are working around the clock to halt the spread of Covid-19.
“It could take several months or even years for a vaccine to be approved, so the development of effective treatments is crucial.
“The positive results of Pneumagen’s early studies are an encouraging step forward.
“With our continued support, we hope the company can develop a drug that will help protect people from the current pandemic and any future outbreaks.”