NeoImmuneTech has dosed the first patient in its phase 1 study designed to assess NT-I7 (efineptakin alfa) in adult patients with mild Covid-19.
The company-sponsored study is being carried out in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC).
NT-I7, a long-acting human IL-7 fusion protein, is claimed to be the first and only T cell amplifier in clinical development to treat cancer and immunologic diseases.
IL-7, a fundamental cytokine for naïve and memory lymphocyte development, has been demonstrated to optimise anti-viral T cell responses, promote lymphocyte homing to infection site, minimise T cell exhaustion and apoptosis and alleviate immunosenescence by extending the T cell receptor repertoire, said the company.
At present, NT-I7 is being evaluated in multiple clinical trials both as a single agent and in combination with other immunotherapeutics, as well as a vaccine adjuvant.
According to the company, NT-I7 has been well-tolerated in clinical trials to date and additional trials are being planned for assessment in haematologic malignancies, solid tumours and other immunology-focused indications.
NeoImmuneTech executive vice president and chief medical officer Dr NgocDiep Le said: “NT-I7 has been shown to restore lymphocyte counts in cancer patients, which also appears to be essential for patients battling viral illnesses such as Covid-19 where low lymphocyte count is strongly associated with poor clinical outcomes.
“We believe that NT-I7 has the potential to reinvigorate patients’ immune systems to mount stronger responses to this aggressive infection.”
In June this year, NeoImmuneTech announced that the US Food and Drug Administration granted orphan drug designation to NT-I7 to treat progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).