Hepion Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ:HEPA) CRV431 demonstrated positive activity against SARS-CoV-2 in a preclinical study conducted at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Conducted under NIAID’s suite of preclinical services and with the institute’s funding, the in vitro study tested CRV431 at concentrations of 0.0032-to-10 micromoles in Caco-2 cells infected with SARS-CoV-2. As a positive control, a protease inhibitor also was tested at concentrations of 0.032-to-100 micrograms per millilitre.
CRV431 inhibited the production of infectious virus with nearly five-times greater potency than the positive control compound. The concentration of CRV431 required to inhibit virus production by 90% was 1.5 micromoles, compared with 7.3 micromoles for the positive control compound.
In addition, separate experiments showed no significant CRV431 cellular toxicity, indicating that its antiviral activity was due to specific effects on the virus.
“The present study conducted by NIAID further supports CRV431 as a potential drug candidate for COVID-19,” Dr. Daren Ure, Hepion’s CSO, said in a statement.
“Taken together, the antiviral properties of CRV431, in addition to the beneficial effects observed in acute lung injury, are quite unique,” he added.
Dr. Robert Foster, Hepion’s CEO, said, “This recent data from NIAID continues to demonstrate the versatility of CRV431 in treating a number of viruses including hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV-1, in addition to our previously reported anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic activity, to name a few. The versatility we are observing with our lead drug candidate is likely attributable to the mechanism of action of inhibiting several isoforms of cyclophilins, which is quite well known.”
Hepion plans to continue work with external collaborators to advance CRV431 to the clinic in the near future, while focusing on CRV431’s Phase 2a program for the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.