UK biotech ILC Therapeutics has announced a research partnership with the University of St Andrews in a bid to progress a therapeutic drug which can treat COVID-19 towards clinical trials.
The biotech start-up is working with the university’s Dr Catherine Adamson from the School of Biology, specifically looking at the role that its drug Alfacyte can play in preventing COVID-19-induced Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).
By avoiding the onset of ARDS, this could reduce the need for many patients to be on a ventilator and could potentially limit both short and long-term damage to patients’ lungs.
Alfacyte is a drug based on a new Interferon Alpha subtype, Interferon Alpha 14, which is the most potent antiviral interferon in existence and requires very small doses for treatment.
Interferons are natural human molecules which have strong antiviral properties. While Interferon Alpha 2 has been used globally for treatment of certain COVID-19 patients, ILC Therapeutics believes that Interferon Alpha 14 could be much more effective in the prevention of ARDS.
Dr Adamson specialises in virology and the development of antiviral drugs. She spent many years working for the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) HIV Drug Resistance Program and another major area of her work surrounds the role that interferons play within viral diseases and their subsequent treatment options.
Dr Adamson will examine the effectiveness of Alfacyte in preventing COVID-19 viral replication in cultured human cells. This is a key step within the development of Alfacyte and is an important part of the pathway which leads to clinical trials.