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Novartis Collaborates with Molecular Partners AG to Develop Antiviral Therapies for Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 29 Oct 2020
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Image: Novartis Collaborates with Molecular Partners AG to Develop Antiviral Therapies for Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19 (Photo courtesy of Molecular Partners AG)
Image: Novartis Collaborates with Molecular Partners AG to Develop Antiviral Therapies for Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19 (Photo courtesy of Molecular Partners AG)
Novartis (Basel, Switzerland) and Molecular Partners AG (Zurich, Switzerland) have signed an option and license agreement to develop, manufacture and commercialize Molecular Partners’ anti-COVID-19 DARPin program, consisting of two therapeutic candidates, MP0420 and MP0423.

The collaboration aims to leverage Molecular Partners’ proprietary DARPin technologies and Novartis broad expertise in global drug development, regulatory affairs, manufacturing and commercialization to rapidly advance the program in keeping with the unprecedented global urgency created by the pandemic. Novartis is making multiple contributions to the global efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of those efforts, it has become increasingly clear that to tackle the pandemic at a global level the development of medicines that can prevent and treat the virus, in addition to the development of vaccines, will be crucial. Multiple treatment options increases the likelihood of reaching and treating patients around the world and, in addition, may be especially important for certain populations at greater risk who may benefit from a prophylactic treatment.

Novartis has been granted an option to in-license global rights of MP0420 and MP0423 - multi-targeted direct acting antiviral therapeutic candidates demonstrating potential efficacy against COVID-19. MP0420 and MP0423 are potential medicines for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, with the possibility of being manufactured at scale and the potential to bypass cold storage. Several characteristics of DARPin therapeutics make them ideally suited for antiviral therapy including multi-specific target binding with the potential to prevent viral escape via mutations, the possibility for subcutaneous administration, long half-life for sustained activity, the potential to bypass cold storage and typically high-yield, highly scalable production in bacterial fermenters. These factors provide the possibility of developing and manufacturing this innovation at scale.

Under the agreement, during the option period, Molecular Partners will conduct Phase 1 clinical trials for MP0420, expected to begin in November 2020, and perform all remaining preclinical work for MP0423 and Novartis will conduct Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials, with Molecular Partners as sponsor of these trials. Upon option exercise, Novartis would be responsible for all further development and commercialization activities. During the clinical development stage, Molecular Partners will provide clinical supply. The companies will work together to scale-up manufacturing capacity, in collaboration with Sandoz, the generics and biosimilar Novartis division, to provide worldwide supply. Both the companies will leverage their respective strengths and expertise to urgently develop these two potential treatments and if the data are positive, facilitate access to these medicines for patients around the world as quickly as possible.

“Our team rapidly mobilized to deliver a unique DARPin-based approach to address the overwhelming need for effective therapeutics against COVID-19. As a class, DARPins have demonstrated over years of clinical research a number of characteristics that enhance their profile as antiviral therapeutics for a global pandemic. We have built on this long-term research with these two candidates, which have demonstrated extremely potent neutralization of the virus through inhibiting multiple viral mechanisms,” said Patrick Amstutz, Chief Executive Officer of Molecular Partners. “We are thrilled to partner with Novartis, who has shown great commitment to combating this pandemic and bringing innovative solutions to people around the world.”

“Novartis remains unwavering in its support for tackling COVID-19 and it is clear that this pandemic calls for not just scientific solutions, but also for collaboration between companies to provide treatments in an area of high unmet need. This Swiss led partnership, which could deliver both prophylactic and treatment options at scale for COVID-19 patients across the globe, is another demonstration of our sustained commitment to addressing one of the greatest health challenges of our time,” said Vas Narasimhan, Chief Executive Officer of Novartis.

Related Links:
Novartis
Molecular Partners AG



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