Shares in Tiziana Life Sciences PLC (NASDAQ:TLSA, LON:TILS) shot up 113% after it said it had developed a handheld inhaler that will allow the rapid delivery of TZLS-501, its drug to treat inflammation of the lung caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“The technology, we think, provides immediate relief thanks to the delivery speed,” said chairman Gabriele Cerrone in a statement.
It has submitted a provisional patent application for the investigational new technology, which could also be used to transport other similar treatments rapidly to the affected areas.
Currently, doctors administer life-saving drugs intravenously.
Tiziana is at the forefront of the fight against the COVID-19 infections with its an anti-interleukin-6 receptor (anti-IL6R) monoclonal antibodies. They target two proteins - interleukin-6 and tumour necrosis factor-alpha - that cause the lung inflammation seen in severe cases of the kind that hospitalised UK prime minister Boris Johnson.
However, its anti-IL6 antibodies differ from those currently on the market in being fully human rather than humanised, which means they are derived from mice.
Treatments such as TZLS-501 will be important in the fight against coronavirus as it expected that even if a vaccine is discovered and rolled out, millions may opt against having the inoculation. And, because of the way TZLS-501 works, it is likely to be effective if new strains emerge.
“The drug works not by treating the virus but attacking inflammation in the lungs - it is attacking the two proteins causing this inflammation. As such, the chances that we will work against another future strain are very high,” Tiziana chairman Cerrone told Proactive.
On-the-ground testing in China has revealed anti-IL6R mAbs, currently approved for rheumatoid arthritis, has a role to play in treating patients.
So, the country’s National Health Commission has recommended the use of Roche blockbuster, Actemra, for patients infected with COVID-19 with serious lung damage and elevated IL-6 levels.
Sanofi’s Kevzara, another FDA-approved anti-IL-6 receptor arthritis therapy, could be used in this setting.
Tiziana, meanwhile, is keen to get the drug to patients as soon as it is practicable - and the regulatory timeline will allow. It will administer TZLS-501 using its proprietary formulation technology.
It said the features of its drug candidate should provide it with “distinct advantages” other anti-IL-6R mAbs such as Actemra and Kevzara in treating severely affected COVID-19 patients.
The aforementioned advantages are TZLS-501’s dual mechanism of action to inhibit signalling by the membrane-bound and soluble IL-6 receptors along with the rapid depletion of circulating IL-6 cytokine, a major cause of lung damage.
In early trade, the shares were up 42.5p at 80 each, valuing Tiziana at £123mln.
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