Tetra Bio-Pharma Inc (TSX:TBP) (OTCQB:TBPMF) (FRA:JAM1), a leader in cannabinoid-derived drug discovery, has announced that its investigational new drug ARDS-003 studied in a viral-infected organoid model as part of a research collaboration between Targeted Pharmaceuticals and George Mason University, has revealed new antiviral properties.
Derived from cannabinoids, ARDS-003 is designed to prevent and treat acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a severe inflammatory response that could be life-threatening to patients with coronavirus (COVID-19) or sepsis.
On March 26, 2021, Tetra said it had struck an agreement with Targeted Pharmaceuticals to initiate additional studies on its leading drug candidate ARDS-003. “As a result, a preliminary study on HIV using the HU-308 molecule, the active pharmaceutical ingredient used in our Covid-19 therapeutic ARDS-003, determined that viral replication is significantly decreased when HU-308 is used in combination with a standard antiviral drug to treat HIV,” said the company.
READ: Tetra Bio-Pharma progressing fast as it advances coronavirus drug candidate ARDS-003 to human trials
In other words, ARDS-003 clears the virus significantly better than the standard antiviral drug alone. “These results suggest that in addition to immunomodulator properties, ARDS-003 demonstrates strong antiviral effects in humans,” noted the Ottawa-based biotechnology company.
Tetra explained that extracellular vesicles (EVs) play a role in the immune response against viral pathogens and post-infection complications, such as neurodegeneration. They incorporate and spread both viral and host factors, thereby inhibiting immune responses towards the viruses through multiple mechanisms, said the company.
Studies have shown that EVs are involved in SARS-CoV-2 infected disease. “EVs have been involved in the transfer of viral receptors to other cells making these cells more susceptible for SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said the company. According to the Sepsis Alliance, viral infections are a frequent cause of sepsis, which is a life-threatening complication.
"Understanding the effect of ARDS-003 on EVs in viral infections is important for guiding the long-term clinical development of Tetra's proprietary asset, particularly since this drug clearly has both anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties,” said Tetra Bio-Pharma CEO Dr Guy Chamberland in a statement.
“The neuro-organoid spheres used in this study are like mini brains! They get infected with the virus thereby allowing us to study our drug without infecting live animals. This has transformed how we conduct research," he added.
Dr Fatah Kashanchi, Professor and Director at the George Mason University's Laboratory of Molecular Virology said the studies are significant in that "cannabinoids may provide a protective effect by alleviating the pathogenic effects of EVs in HIV-1 and CNS-related infections."
"Our data suggests that certain cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC can act as viral transcription inhibitors, potentially through two independent mechanisms and provide significant reduction in EVs released from infected cells," added Dr Kashanchi.
Tetra confirmed that this research also included its drug ARDS-003.
Dr Chamberland noted that the firm’s partnership with Targeted is allowing it to learn more about the therapeutic potential of ARDS-003.
“Sepsis is a major cause of death worldwide and viral infections contribute to this. These types of studies are a first of a kind using neuro-organoid spheres,” added Dr Chamberland. “We believe this partnership will lead to new market opportunities for both corporations as we leverage our cannabinoid inhalation intellectual property as well as that of the ARDS-003 drug."
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