Launched just days ago (Feb 13), the Department of Health and Social Care’s AGILE system will provide financial backing for phase I trials.
Sareum is currently carrying out preclinical research to assess the potential of its candidate, SDC-1801, on COVID-19.
The drug is a selective, small-molecule TYK2/JAK1 kinase inhibitor that has also been earmarked as a potential combatant of autoimmune diseases.
Sareum's COVID-19 programme will assess whether SDC-1801 is able to damp down the so-called cytokine storm that results from an over-active inflammatory response to the illness.
Researchers will also evaluate whether the treatment could potentially re-establish protection against bacterial pneumonia following SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The work, which began in December and should take six months, has UK government grant backing. Sareum said if its preclinical efforts are successful it may be eligible for AGILE funding.
The company’s chief scientific officer, Dr John Reader, said: "We are delighted that the UK government has created the AGILE clinical trial platform and has provided the funding needed to support this exciting and much-needed initiative, which may represent a potential route of future funding for the company.
“Despite the successful UK vaccination programme, we believe that there is still a clear need for new therapies to treat severe respiratory inflammation arising from viral infections such as COVID-19.
“Should the company's current work programme be successful, we will consider this new initiative as a potential source of funding contributing towards advancing SDC-1801 as a potential treatment for COVID-19 patients."