Revive, Ascletis Provide Positive Updates on Potential COVID-19 Therapies

Vials prepared in a laboratory

As threats of the pandemic and virus mutations continue, scientists are unrelenting in their search for new treatments for COVID-19. Two investigational drugs have come into the spotlight this week, therapeutics developed by Revive and Ascletis. 

Revive's Buccillamine Versus COVID-19

Revive Therapeutics is looking into the potential of using bucillamine to treat patients with mild to moderate COVID-19. The company clarifies that it is not yet claiming its product may be a solution against SARS-CoV-2. Still, it is evaluating the drug in a Phase III clinical trial. If all goes well, it could earn an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Bucillamine is an oral medication with antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. The company is exploring the possibility that bucillamine might be viable against COVID-19 after observing that it produces high antibody levels when used with sulfasalazine. Japanese researchers compared antibody levels in patients who received the said combination with groups given a TNF inhibitor with methotrexate, mycophenolate mofetil, abatacept or mizoribine and other drugs.

Details of this trial, which involved 295 Japanese participants diagnosed with rheumatic diseases, are published in Modern Rheumatology in an article titled "Antibody Response to SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccines in Patients with Rheumatic Diseases in Japan: Interim Analysis of a Multicenter Cohort Study."

"The potential of Bucillamine for COVID-19 is evident with its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and its potential use in patients who have taken SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines," said Michael Frank, the chief executive officer of Revive, in a press release. 

The company did not mention if it will also be evaluating the drug for patients with other disease types in the future.

Ascletis' 3CLpro Inhibitor Demonstrates Potency Against COVID-19

Ascletis shared that ASC11, its oral small molecule candidate, has demonstrated strong early potential to treat COVID-19.

ASC11 is a 3-chymotrypsin-like protease (3CLpro) inhibitor that functions through molecular docking, which allows it to form a strong hydrogen bond with glutamic acid 166 of 3CLpro. This creates new bonds with other key amino acids and enables it to fit more tightly in hydrophobic pocket 4 to build a significantly higher antiviral potency. In addition, scientists also observed ASC11's in vitro metabolism properties, microsomal stability and Caco-2 permeability, further making a case for the possibility that it can treat COVID-19.

"We are excited about our oral small molecule preclinical drug candidates for their potential to be best-in-class antiviral treatment of COVID-19. These preclinical drug candidates demonstrate our discovery capability as a leading antiviral biotech," noted Dr. Jinzi J. Wu, the founder, chairman and chief executive of Ascletis, in a statement.

Ascletis is preparing to file its Investigational New Drug application for ASC11 by the second half of 2022 and commence its Phase I clinical study in healthy participants by the end of the year.

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