Leronlimab Under Evaluation for Potential Treatment of Coronavirus


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VANCOUVER, Washington, Jan. 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- CytoDyn Inc. (OTC.QB: CYDY), (“CytoDyn” or the “Company"), a late-stage biotechnology company developing leronlimab (PRO 140), a CCR5 antagonist with the potential for multiple therapeutic indications, today announced that it is exploring leronlimab as a potential treatment for patients infected with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), a rapidly spreading virus and potential worldwide emergency.

“Leronlimab has both the potential to enhance the cellular immune response by suppressing Treg cells that, in turn, inhibit the anti-viral T-cell responses and the potential to repolarize macrophage activity,” said Bruce Patterson, M.D., chief executive officer and founder of IncellDx, a diagnostic partner and an advisor to CytoDyn. “Lung (alveolar) macrophages in coronavirus infections have been implicated as a contributing factor to significant morbidity and mortality of the infectious disease. Leronlimab could potentially synergize with other retroviral therapies that currently being used for the potential treatment of 2019-nCoV.”

Leronlimab has shown no drug-related serious adverse events in nine clinical trials with more than 800 patients and has been previously used in combination with protease inhibitors used in HIV therapy, which could be potentially used to treat the specific strain of the 2019-nCoV.

Nader Pourhassan, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of CytoDyn, added: “We support efforts to identify new and potential treatments to limit the spread of the 2019-nCoV, which is affecting people on a global scale at an accelerating rate. We look forward to advancing discussions with potential partners to study leronlimab as a treatment option for this deadly virus.”

About 2019 Novel Coronavirus

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China.1 The origin of 2019-nCoV is uncertain and it is unclear how easily the virus spreads.2 2019-nCov is thought to be transmitted person to person through respiratory droplets, commonly resulting from coughing sneezing and close personal contact.3 Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals.4 For confirmed 2019-nCoV infections, symptoms have included fever, cough and shortness of breath.5 It is believed that symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days prior to exposure, and that symptoms in patients have ranged from non-existent to severe and fatal.6 There are currently no known anti-viral treatments effective at suppressing 2019-nCoV.7

About Leronlimab (PRO 140)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have granted a “Fast Track” designation to CytoDyn for two potential indications of leronlimab for deadly diseases. The first as a combination therapy with HAART for HIV-infected patients and the second is for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer.  Leronlimab is an investigational humanized IgG4 mAb that blocks CCR5, a cellular receptor that is important in HIV infection, tumor metastases, and other diseases including   NASH.  Leronlimab has successfully completed nine clinical trials in over 800 people, including meeting its primary endpoints in a pivotal Phase 3 trial (leronlimab in combination with standard antiretroviral therapies in HIV-infected treatment-experienced patients).

In the setting of HIV/AIDS, leronlimab is a viral-entry inhibitor; it masks CCR5, thus protecting healthy T cells from viral infection by blocking the predominant HIV (R5) subtype from entering those cells. Leronlimab has been the subject of nine clinical trials, each of which demonstrated that leronlimab can significantly reduce or control HIV viral load in humans. The leronlimab antibody appears to be a powerful antiviral agent leading to potentially fewer side effects and less frequent dosing requirements compared with daily drug therapies currently in use.

In the setting of cancer, research has shown that CCR5 plays an important role in tumor invasion and metastasis.  Increased CCR5 expression is an indicator of disease status in several cancers. Published studies have shown that blocking CCR5 can reduce tumor metastases in laboratory and animal models of aggressive breast and prostate cancer. Leronlimab reduced human breast cancer metastasis by more than 98% in a murine xenograft model. CytoDyn is therefore conducting a Phase 1b/2 human clinical trial in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer and was granted Fast Track designation in May 2019.  Additional research is being conducted with leronlimab in the setting of cancer and NASH with plans to conduct additional clinical studies when appropriate. 

The CCR5 receptor appears to play a central role in modulating immune cell trafficking to sites of inflammation and may be important in the development of acute graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) and other inflammatory conditions. Clinical studies by others further support the concept that blocking CCR5 using a chemical inhibitor can reduce the clinical impact of acute GvHD without significantly affecting the engraftment of transplanted bone marrow stem cells. CytoDyn is currently conducting a Phase 2 clinical study with leronlimab to further support the concept that the CCR5 receptor on engrafted cells is critical for the development of acute GvHD and that blocking this receptor from recognizing certain immune signaling molecules is a viable approach to mitigating acute GvHD. The FDA has granted “orphan drug” designation to leronlimab for the prevention of GvHD. (Article from : www.drugs.com)

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