BetterLife Pharma Inc (CSE:BETR) (OTCQB:BETRF) (FRA:NPAU), a biotech company focused on interferon (IFN) based therapeutics, updated investors Wednesday on the progress of its AP-003 COVID-19 clinical trials using inhaled interferon alpha 2b.
While recent advancements in vaccines may seem to provide a glimmer of hope for bringing the pandemic to a close, it remains to be seen how safe and effective they will be, the company said. That means the need for life-saving COVID-19 remains significant.
AP-003, as both a treatment and preventative, may well provide the solution for this unmet need, following the conclusion of its imminent trials in Australia.
BetterLife’s clinical trial will test AP-003, an inhaled recombinant human alpha 2b interferon drug, against a placebo. The trial, which the company claims is the first of its kind in Australia, is expected to recruit 150 patients.
AP-003 utilizes interferons, which are a natural part of the body’s innate immune system induced by viral infection, the company said, providing the first line of defense. Interferon production is inhibited by the virus responsible for COVID-19, the company explained, but AP-003 is designed to bypass the COVID-19-induced interferon production blockade.
BetterLife believes that AP-003 could lessen the severity and duration of COVID-19 and reduce the need for hospital admissions.
According to Eleanor Fish, an expert on IFNs and member of BetterLife's scientific board, SARS-COV-2 contains trigger genes that are turned on after the virus infects cells in the host's airways, which in turn produces factors that block IFN production.
The importance of the body's IFN response has also been reflected in the development of the Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) (FRA:PFE) vaccine, the company said. The vaccine stimulates the production of IFN gamma in T Cells, which are responsible for fighting infections.
IFN gamma is a Type 2 IFN, in contrast to BetterLife's interferon alpha 2b, which is Type 1. Both types of interferons are central to combating virus infection and modulating the antiviral immune response, the company said.
Additionally, IFNs are produced by the immune system and are not virus-specific, meaning viruses can't become drug-resistant to them.
BetterLife CEO Ahmad Doroudian believes that the best approach may be combining IFN with remdesivir and/or the monoclonal antibodies being evaluated now.
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