Laurent Pharmaceuticals Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that spun off from McGill University in 2012, today announces that it is planning to test its lead drug LAU-7b in patients with COVID-19 disease, as part of a Phase 2 clinical trial.
LAU-7b is a novel once-a-day oral form of fenretinide, an investigational drug under development by Laurent Pharmaceuticals for its ability to help control inflammation in the lungs. During a recent drug-library screening effort conducted by scientists from the Institut Pasteur Korea, fenretinide was also identified as a potential anti-viral therapeutic option for COVID-19.
“We are excited about the prospect of applying LAU-7b’s unique pro-resolving effect and the newly discovered antiviral properties against coronavirus in a trial with COVID-19 patients, to potentially reduce disease severity and lung complications”, said Radu Pislariu, MD, President and CEO of Laurent Pharmaceuticals. “LAU-7b works by modulating key membrane lipids and triggers the body’s own resolution of inflammation, a process involving certain signalling pathways that also play an essential role in the virus cellular entry, replication and avoidance of host defense system, all targets for LAU-7b to counteract the virus spread”, added Dr Pislariu.
LAU-7b is currently being evaluated in a Phase 2 clinical trial in Canada, US and Australia, involving adult patients with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and aiming to treat the exaggerated inflammatory response that leads to irreversible lung damage. Earlier Phase 1b clinical data in adult CF patients showed an important reduction of key pro-inflammatory biomarkers (IL-6, IL-8, neutrophils count) at the onset of a pulmonary exacerbation episodes, suggestive of a protective effect on the lungs.
“There are many similarities between the aberrant inflammatory response in the lung of exacerbating CF patients and the pathogenesis of pulmonary complications associated with the COVID-19 infection”, said Larry Lands, MD, PhD, Director, Pediatric Respiratory Medicine at McGill University Health Centre, and Chief Medical Advisor for Laurent Pharmaceuticals. “COVID-19 patients can exhibit a sudden and overreactive inflammation of the lungs that could result in the need for ventilator support, thus creating an unsustainable burden for the health care system and a rapidly escalating crisis”, added Dr Lands.
The company is working closely with regulatory authorities in Canada and United States, planning to initiate a randomized, placebo-controlled Phase II clinical study, within a month. The study will involve approximatively 200 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 and at risk to develop lung complications, for a treatment duration of 14 days.
About Laurent Pharmaceuticals
Laurent Pharmaceuticals is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focusing on severe inflammatory diseases that are poorly addressed by current anti-inflammatory therapies. The company’s lead drug candidate, LAU-7b, is a unique, patent protected pill formulation of fenretinide with high bioavailability ideally applicable to a once-a-day low dose treatment regimen. LAU-7b has the potential to trigger the resolution phase of inflammation, and is currently in a Phase 2 study involving adult patients with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Fenretinide, an investigational synthetic retinoid, has a well-documented safety profile established in 3,000+ patients, in various indications. For more information, please visit www.laurentpharma.com.