PharmAust (ASX: PAA) is set to test the ability of its monepantel and monepantel sulfone drugs on their ability to inhibit coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 infection, the virus behind the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The company has executed a service agreement with Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) in the Netherlands.
Under the agreement, LUMC will evaluate the impact of the monepantel drugs on the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in cell lines.
This will be done to determine the viability of testing monepantel and monepantel sulfone in ex-vivo human SARS-CoV-2 infection models, which will be cultured human airway epithelial tissue.
PharmAust will pay a fee to LUMC to carry out the study and will retain all intellectual property developed.
It is expected the studies will begin “shortly” with the final data and report scheduled to be released before the end of the year.
LUMC principal investigator of antiviral drug development Prof Martijn van Hemert will oversee the study.
As a molecular virologist, Prof van Hemert has been studying emerging viruses like SARS-CoV, chikungunya and Zika for more than 15 years.
Since the onset of the SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic at the start of the year, Prof van Hemert has almost exclusively focused on the virus, including development and testing of antivirals.
Globally, there is a rush to develop potential vaccines and anti-viral medications to combat SARS-CoV-2.
However, to-date there are no cures or effective remedies.
PharmAust noted that drug development in this field stats with simple in vitro cell line tests and then progress to ex-vivo human organoid tissue before moving to the clinical trial stage.
During the LUMC study, PharmAust anticipates it will gather enough data to determine the applicability of testing monepantel and monepantel sulfone in ex-vivo human organoid lung tissue.
Last month, PharmAust revealed preliminary research findings that monepantel and monepantel sulfone could supress SARS-CoV-2 in human Calu-2 lung adenocarcinoma epithelial cells in culture.
Results showed the drugs could suppress particle counts of SARS-CoV-2 between 90% and 95%.