Citius Pharmaceuticals has entered into an exclusive six-month option agreement with Novellus subsidiary to licence novel stem-cell therapy for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) associated with COVID-19, the disease caused due to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
Novellus’ patented process applies exclusive non-immunogenic synthetic messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) molecules for the creation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).
The iPSCs will be used to create mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) with advanced immunomodulatory properties.
According to Citius, the MSCs have been demonstrated to be safe in more than 900 clinical trials, as well as effective in the treatment of multiple inflammatory diseases such as ARDS.
Citius CEO Myron Holubiak said: “ARDS is the most common cause of respiratory failure and mortality in COVID-19 patients. Currently, there is no proven treatment for ARDS. Literature supports the use of counter-inflammatory MSCs for ARDS, and papers published in China have shown that at least seven COVID-19 patients with ARDS responded to MSC therapy.
“Clearly this is an avenue that shows promise and should be pursued as a potential treatment for ARDS.”
Novellus’s patented mRNA-based cell-reprogramming technology helps to create unique MSCs with advanced immunomodulatory properties and manufacturing advantages over primary adult donor-derived MSCs.
The MSCs helps to avoid and suppress cytokine storm that is expected to result in the severe inflammation of ARDS and now it is evidenced in COVID-19 patients.
ARDS is a type of respiratory failure quick onset of widespread inflammation in the lungs. It is said to affect around 200,000 patients per year in the US, exclusive of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Novellus chief science officer Matt Angel said: “Using our mRNA-based cell-reprogramming technology, Novellus can provide a near-unlimited supply of MSCs for treating patients with ARDS, including those critically ill from COVID-19.”
Recently, Xencor and Vir Biotechnology have entered into a technology licence agreement for the use of Xtend XmAb Fc technology in investigational antibodies for the treatment of COVID-19.
Under the deal, Vir can non-exclusively access Xencor’s Xtend Fc technology to expand the half-life of novel antibodies, which are being assessed as potential treatments for patients with COVID-19 disease.