Viral disease specialist Biotron Limited (ASX: BIT) is in the process of evaluating several promising compounds for activity against coronavirus, including the new novel strain known as 2019-nCoV.
Managing Director, Dr Michelle Miller, said that within its proprietary small molecule compound library Biotron has over 30 compounds with good activity against a range of coronaviruses, including human coronaviruses that cause mild, cold-like symptoms as well as the SARS coronavirus that was responsible for the outbreak of that virus in 2003.
Dr Miller said these compounds can reduce the levels of coronavirus by 90 – 100% in infected cell cultures. Importantly, several compounds have broad-spectrum activity against multiple strains of coronaviruses.
In response to the recent coronavirus outbreak in China Biotron is now focused on testing a select set of these compounds against the new 2019-nCoV,” the company stated.
This work will be done under contract in specialist laboratories that have access to this new virus, which has only been isolated and made available for such studies in recent days. Biotron’s priority will be testing its compounds that have shown broad-spectrum activity against different coronaviruses.
Biotron’s core expertise lies in the design and development of drugs that target virus-encoded proteins known as viroporins. The company’s scientists were the first to identify and publish data showing that the E protein of the coronavirus is viroporin and a good target for antiviral drugs.
“While Biotron’s focus has been on its lead clinical HIV-1 eradication and its promising preclinical Hepatitis B virus (HBV) programmes, the company has continued to progress earlier stage research on development of drugs to target respiratory infections including coronaviruses,” Dr Miller said.
Sydney-headquartered Biotron Limited is engaged in the research, development, and commercialisation of drugs targeting significant viral diseases with unmet medical need.
The company has BIT225 in clinical development for HIV-1 and a promising preclinical program for HBV.
In addition, Biotron has several earlier stage programs designing drugs that target a class of virus protein known as viroporins which have a key role in the virus life cycle of a very broad range of viruses, many of which have caused worldwide health issues such as Coronavirus, Dengue, Ebola, Middle East Respiratory virus, Influenza and Zika viruses.