Noxopharm (ASX: NOX) is the latest small cap to reveal it has a potential COVID-19 treatment, after it reported this morning its advanced idronoxil drug could block an excessive inflammatory response believed to be responsible for many COVID-19 fatalities.
Branded Veyonda, Noxopharm has already been advancing idronoxil in conjunction with other therapies in clinical trials to treat late stage cancers, particularly prostate.
To-date, idronoxil has exhibited an excellent safety profile as well as having an anti-cancer effect.
In addition to this, the Hudson Institute has now identified the drug’s anti-inflammatory properties as consistent with blocking the “cytokine storm” responsible for many COVID-19 deaths.
For the past 12 months, Noxopharm and the Hudson Institute have been working together to gain a better understanding on how idronoxil works with the body’s immune system.
Using pre-clinical models, the institute found that idronoxil suppressed the cytokine molecules responsible for triggering inflammation.
“The mechanism of action and the suite of cytokines inhibited has certain novel aspects and immediately was recognised by both parties as potentially important in the treatment of cytokine storm as it applies to septic shock,” Noxopharm stated.
As a result of these findings, Noxopharm has lodged a provisional patent application in Australia regarding the use of idronoxil in treating early-stage organ damage, and preventing sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
“When you are told by respected scientists that your lead drug candidate might prevent deaths in a global pandemic, then you don’t walk away from that possibility,” Noxopharm chief executive officer Dr Graham Kelly explained.
“Having idronoxil already in the clinic means that we are in a good position to commence clinical testing as soon as we receive the necessary funding and regulatory approvals.”
Noxopharm also plans to publish its data in scientific literature “as soon as possible”.
Moving forward, Noxopharm and Hudson Institute plan to build on this discovery by developing an idronoxil derivative to treat septic shock generally.
Meanwhile, Noxopharm will make idronoxil available for “immediate clinical use” as a potential cytokine storm inhibitor.
“We propose using a special oral formulation of idronoxil called NOX-19,” Dr Kelly said.
“The current proposal is to give NOX-19 to patients with early stage organ damage and with early signs of cytokine storm with the aim of blocking the rapid progression of the cytokine storm and thereby preventing sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome.”
“This is all with the aim of having fewer patients needing to be admitted to the ICU and a reduction in the number of patients needing ventilators. This would greatly reduce the pressure on hospitals and healthcare systems,” Dr Kelly explained.