Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and DRIVE Partner to Develop Clinical Stage Coronavirus Treatment

Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Drug Innovations at Emory (DRIVE) LLC, a not-for-profit biotechnology company wholly owned by Emory University, today announced a collaboration to rapidly advance into human testing DRIVE’s promising oral COVID-19 treatment.

This collaboration combines Ridgeback’s experience advancing drug development efforts in the midst of an on-going disease outbreak with the three decades of experience that the DRIVE executive team has in antiviral drug development and commercialization.

Under the collaboration, Ridgeback has exclusively licensed DRIVE’s EIDD-2801, which has broad spectrum activity against a number of diseases of extreme public health concern, including influenza, SARS, MERS, chikungunya, and equine encephalitis (VEE and EEE). EIDD-2801 prevents the replication of multiple strains of coronavirus in vitro, and has been shown to have potent activity against SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV in animal models of infection.  Ridgeback Biotherapeutics will be responsible for advancing this promising therapeutic through clinical development and ensuring that EIDD-2801 is available during the current pandemic.

“With EIDD-2801 close to entering clinical trials for influenza and its activity against the SARS and MERS coronaviruses, we immediately recognized that EIDD-2801 had the potential for treating COVID-19. Based on our extensive testing, we believe EIDD-2801 will be effective in treating individuals that have been sickened by COVID-19,” says George Painter, PhD, Director of the Emory Institute for Drug Development (EIDD) and CEO of DRIVE. “Given Ridgeback Biotherapeutics’ experience in accelerating the development of potential therapeutics in outbreak settings and its proven commitment to global health, we are confident that Ridgeback can quickly advance EIDD-2801 into clinical trials for COVID-19 and initiate steps toward ensuring a rapid development path for this promising drug.”

“As a potent oral antiviral agent, EIDD-2801 represents one of the best options available to impact the current global pandemic.  Its broad-spectrum antiviral activity makes it an excellent candidate for treating a variety of infectious diseases including influenza as well as for other emerging infectious diseases like Eastern Equine Encephalitis,” says Wendy Holman, CEO of Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. “During this unprecedented crisis, Ridgeback looks forward to working with the seasoned drug development team at DRIVE and the dedicated and brave medical, public health and governmental personnel that are on the frontlines of this pandemic – both within the United States and abroad. The ability to deliver promising treatments to patients in need is what makes us excited to come to work every day.  Ridgeback is uniquely positioned to help advance EIDD-2801 not only for its potential commercial indications, but also for the treatment of diseases that are critical to global health.”

EIDD-2801 is an orally bioavailable form of a highly potent ribonucleoside analog that inhibits the replication of multiple RNA viruses including SARS-CoV2. In laboratory and animal studies of two distinct coronaviruses (SARS-CoV1 and MERS), the bioactive form of EIDD-2801 has been shown to improve pulmonary function, decrease body weight loss and reduce the amount of virus in the lung. EIDD-2801 is expected to begin clinical testing for SARS-CoV2 and influenza in the second quarter of 2020. In addition to activity against SARS-CoV2, EIDD-2801, in laboratory studies, has demonstrated activity against respiratory syncytial virus, influenza, chikungunya, Ebola, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, and Eastern equine encephalitis viruses.

The development of EIDD-2801 has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), under contract numbers HHSN272201500008C and 75N93019C00058, and from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), under contract numbers HDTRA1-13-C-0072 and HDTRA1-15-C-0075, for the treatment of Influenza, coronavirus, chikungunya, and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus.

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