17 January, 2022 - Poolbeg Pharma (AIM: POLB, 'Poolbeg' or the 'Company'), a clinical stage infectious disease pharmaceutical company with a capital light clinical model, has in-licenced a novel, first-in-class RNA-based immunotherapy for respiratory virus infections developed at the University of Warwick.
Poolbeg has secured an exclusive licence to this dual antiviral prophylactic and therapeutic candidate, which is at a late-pre-clinical development stage. In vivo data confirms that this immunotherapy asset targets pan-respiratory virus infections, which could include influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), SARS-CoV-2 and others.
The candidate, which will be developed by Poolbeg as POLB 002, was developed at the University of Warwick and derived from twenty years of research with world class virologists, Professor Andrew Easton and Professor Nigel Dimmock.
Administered intra-nasally, this RNA-based immunotherapy works by triggering nasal cells into an antiviral state to protect from the infecting virus. Simultaneously, it blocks the cells from making more virus by directly preventing its replication. Both modes of action combined can reduce infectious viral loads and improve disease symptoms. As a nasally administered and rapidly effective prophylactic antiviral candidate, it could potentially provide an effective solution for protecting at risk patient populations (e.g. the elderly, COPD patients, and asthmatics).
Respiratory virus infections are considered a top five global killer resulting in more than three million annual deaths worldwide. There is a significant unmet need for improved respiratory virus infection therapies and the current available treatments, vaccines and antiviral drugs, are typically pathogen specific. Consequently, 85% of illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses cannot be adequately treated and the emergence of resistance is also a major concern.
Jeremy Skillington, PhD, CEO of Poolbeg Pharma, said: "This dual action immunotherapy developed by the team at University of Warwick is a really exciting technology in the field of respiratory virus disease treatments. The data shows it to rapidly reduce viral load and also prevent the likelihood of virus resistance.
"It will be an excellent addition to our growing pipeline of assets and we plan to move rapidly towards human proof-of-concept studies using our capital light clinical model. We look forward to updating the market as POLB 002 progresses through the clinic with the ultimate aim of partnering it with Big Pharma."
Professor Andrew Easton, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick, said: "Currently most respiratory virus infections cannot be treated despite being responsible for millions of deaths each year. This is a very exciting new approach with great potential. We are delighted to be developing it alongside the Poolbeg Pharma team, with their extensive knowledge and experience in the sector."