To develop in collaboration with CNS Pharmaceuticals antiviral drug candidates licensed from Moleculin Biotech for the international markets
WPD Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CSE: WBIO) a clinical stage pharmaceutical company, is pleased to announce that independent research on its WP1122 drug compound found 2-deoxy-D-glucose (“2-DG”) to reduce replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, by 100% in in vitro testing. WPD in collaboration with its development partner CNS Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSP) intends to develop several preclinical drug candidates including WP1122, which will be tested on a range of viruses including the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
WPD has licensed rights to a portfolio of drug candidates, including WP1122, through its license partner, Moleculin Biotech, Inc. (NASDAQ: MBRX). Recently, researchers at the University of Frankfurt disclosed the findings in their article submitted to NatureResearch on March 11, 2020 (Bojkova, D et al; DOI: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-17218/v1) (https://www.researchsquare.com/article/rs-17218/v1). The authors reported that inhibiting glycolysis with non-toxic concentrations of 2-DG completely prevented SARS-CoV–2 replication in Caco–2 cells. Glycolysis is a process by which cells convert glucose into energy and infected (host) cells are induced by viruses to dramatically increase their dependence on glycolysis. 2-DG inhibits glycolysis because, although it appears to cells to be glucose, it is in fact a decoy that cannot be converted into energy.
WP1122 is referred to as a “prodrug” of 2-DG whereby chemical elements are added to 2-DG to improve its delivery in vivo. Once administered, these added elements are removed by normal metabolic processes and what remains is 2-DG. As a result, 2-DG is the active compound in WP1122. In chemical terms, it is referred to as the active “moiety” (subpart) of WP1122.
“We are excited with this breakthrough on our WP1122 drug candidate and the early implications are that it could have positive effects on reducing the spread of COVID-19,” commented Mariusz Olejniczak, CEO of WPD. “I would like to commend our license partner, Moleculin and the researchers at the University of Frankfurt for their expedited work and the willingness of the authors to pre-release this data will help support our development of WP1122 for treating COVID-19.”
Walter Klemp, Chairman and CEO of Moleculin added: “This discovery essentially put our development efforts in to turbo-drive. We are moving as quickly as we can to prepare WP1122 for clinical trials. With the US and EU having established accelerated approval procedures for COVID-19 related projects, we expect this to move very quickly. We look forward to WPD’s help, especially as it relates to expediting things in Europe.”
According to WPD’s license partner Moleculin, 2-DG is often referred to as the ‘active moiety’ in WP1122. The issue with 2-DG is that its often metabolized too quickly by the body, so human tissues and organs can’t get enough concentration to be therapeutic. Therefore, even though 2-DG is active against a range of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, it isn’t useful as a clinical therapy because it metabolizes too rapidly. WP1122 works to solve this problem because it is a ‘prodrug’ of 2-DG. Its structure enables it to achieve much higher tissue/organ concentrations than 2-DG alone, but once it’s in the cell, it metabolizes into the exact same 2-DG that is so effective in vitro.
About WPD Pharmaceuticals
WPD is a biotechnology research and development company with a focus on oncology, namely research and development of medicinal products involving biological compounds and small molecules. WPD has 10 novel drug candidates with 4 that are in clinical development stage. These drug candidates were researched at institutions including the Mayo Clinic and Emory University, and WPD currently has ongoing collaborations with Wake Forest University and leading hospitals and academic centers in Poland.
WPD has entered into license agreements with Wake Forest University Health Sciences and sublicense agreements with Moleculin Biotech, Inc. and CNS Pharmaceuticals, Inc., respectively, each of which grant WPD an exclusive, royalty-bearing sublicense to certain technologies of the licensor. Such agreements provide WPD with certain research, development, manufacturing and sales rights, among other things. The sublicense territory from CNS Pharmaceuticals and Moleculin Biotech includes 31 countries in Europe and Asia, including Russia.
About CNS Pharmaceuticals Inc.
CNS Pharmaceuticals is developing novel treatments primarily for cancers of the brain and central nervous system. Its lead drug candidate, Berubicin, is proposed for the treatment of GBM, an aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer. CNS holds a worldwide exclusive license to the Berubicin chemical compound and has acquired all data and know-how from Reata Pharmaceuticals related to a completed Phase 1 trial with Berubicin in GBM which Reata conducted in 2006. In this trial, 44% of patients experienced a statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival. This 44% disease control rate was based on 11 patients (out of 25 evaluable patients) with stable disease, plus responders. One patient experienced a durable complete response and remains cancer-free as of February 2020. In the second half of 2020, CNS expects to commence a Phase 2 clinical trial of Berubicin for the treatment of GBM in the U.S., while a sub-licensee partner undertakes a Phase 2 trial in adults and a first-ever Phase 1 trial in pediatric GBM patients in Poland. Its second drug candidate, WP1244, is a novel DNA binding agent that has been shown in preclinical studies to be 500-times more potent than the chemotherapeutic agent daunorubicin in inhibiting tumor cell proliferation.
Some of the statements in this press release are forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which involve risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking statements in this press release include, without limitation, the ability of WPD Pharmaceuticals to develop the drug candidates subject to the development agreement. These statements relate to future events, future expectations, plans and prospects. Although CNS believes the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable as of the date made, expectations may prove to have been materially different from the results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. CNS has attempted to identify forward-looking statements by terminology including ”believes,” ”estimates,” ”anticipates,” ”expects,” ”plans,” ”projects,” ”intends,” ”potential,” ”may,” ”could,” ”might,” ”will,” ”should,” ”approximately” or other words that convey uncertainty of future events or outcomes to identify these forward-looking statements. These statements are only predictions and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, including those discussed in the Company’s SEC filings, including under the heading “Risk Factors” in the Form S-1 filed on October 7, 2019. Any forward-looking statements contained in this press release speak only as of its date. CNS undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this press release to reflect events or circumstances occurring after its date or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.
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