Aptorum Group has joined forces with Covar Pharmaceuticals for studying the use of three repurposed drug candidates for the treatment of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The company has initiated an additional research and development project targeting the coronavirus group and has wrapped up initial screening under the repurposed and new drug discovery platform Smart-ACT.
Out of more than 2,600 approved small drug molecules, Aptorum has picked at least three potential candidates, which will undergo further preclinical investigation against COVID-19.
The company has also signed an agreement with the University of Hong Kong’s Microbiology Department to carry out further preclinical investigation of the selected candidates before seeking approval from regulatory agencies to begin clinical trials on suitable candidates.
Aptorum, in particular, will focus on investigating at least three small molecule drugs (collectively called SACT-COV19), that have shown potential interference against the 3CL-Protease and RNA dependent RNA Polymerase (RDRP) enzyme targets. Both the targets are said to play crucial roles in the replication cycle of coronavirus.
According to the company, 3CL-Protease, in particular, is thought to mediate viral replication and transcription functions by extensive proteolytic processing, while RDRP is believed to catalyse the replication of viral RNA from its RNA template.
The company said that the selected drug candidates will go through further preclinical assessment on efficacy against COVID-19.
Aptorum CEO Ian Huen said: “In order to accelerate development, our aim is to identify candidates from already approved drugs, that have established safety, toxicity and pharmacokinetic clinical profiles, to be repurposed for treatment of COVID-19.
“In addition, due to the ongoing mutation and evolution of this coronavirus, we cannot rule out that there may be further strains of this coronavirus emerging in the near future and therefore, the world must be prepared to deal with such challenges swiftly and collectively in order to minimize casualties and economic loss.”
“We believe that Aptorum Group’s Smart-ACT platform in conjunction with our existing Acticule infectious disease development capabilities and as supported by Covar Pharmaceuticals, is well-positioned to develop potential solutions and to deliver our share of contribution to the world on this disease as well as others.”