Munich/Martinsried, Germany, April 28, 2020 – Secarna Pharmaceuticals GmbH & Co. KG (“Secarna”), a biopharmaceutical company focusing on the discovery and development of next generation antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) therapies to address challenging or previously undruggable targets via its LNAplusTM platform, today announced that the Company has entered into a cooperation with the First Affiliated Hospital at Guangzhou Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU) for the development of a treatment or prophylactic for SARS-CoV-2 viral infections. Under this agreement, Secarna will employ its proprietary LNAplusTM platform to develop antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) which specifically suppress the expression of a certain host factor that is essential for the viral infection cycle.
Secarna’s approach to target host factors is beneficial compared to other approaches targeting the virus directly, as most viruses are known to evade targeted therapies by mutation over time. This risk could be completely avoided by targeting host factors. Additionally, different viruses often depend on common host factors. Therefore, a therapy addressing a host factor linked to existing or emerging viruses could potentially also serve as a treatment against future challenges.
The feasibility of Secarna’s concept was already successfully demonstrated in 20191. In this study, Secarna employed its LNAplusTM platform to develop ASOs targeting the host factor NPC1 to efficiently reduce Ebola virus infection in vitro. The approach’s applicability to SARS-CoV-2 is currently being evaluated by Prof. Claus Bachert at the University of Ghent in Belgium and the First Affiliated Hospital at Guangzhou Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU).
“We are very excited to be working together with Guangzhou’s Sun Yat-sen University and leveraging our proprietary technology to develop LNAplusTM-based ASOs to potentially tackle SARS-CoV-2 infections. By targeting a host factor essential to the viral infection cycle, we hope to prevent the infection of cells and viral spread,” said Jonas Renz, Managing Director and Co-founder of Secarna Pharmaceuticals.
Prof. Claus Bachert added: “This international cooperation is combining an innovative development platform with specific translational laboratory skills and the access to patients in a unique way.”
Secarna’s proprietary third-generation antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) platform, LNAplus™, which encompasses all aspects of drug discovery and pre-clinical development, enables the company to discover novel antisense-based therapies for challenging or currently undruggable targets. Secarna’s platform and ASOs have previously been validated by numerous in-house projects as well as in several academic and industry collaborations. With over 15 development programs focusing on targets in indications such as immuno-oncology, immunology, ophthalmology, as well as viral-, neurodegenerative- and cardiometabolic diseases, where antisense-based approaches have clear benefits compared to other therapeutic modalities, Secarna is the leading independent European antisense drug discovery and development company.
Secarna Pharmaceuticals is the next generation antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) company with multiple innovative antisense therapies in various stages of pre-clinical development in the areas of immuno-oncology, immunology, ophthalmology, as well as viral-, neurodegenerative- and cardiometabolic diseases. Secarna’s mission is to maximize the performance and output of its proprietary LNAplus™ antisense oligonucleotide discovery platform, as well as to develop highly specific, safe, and efficacious best-in-class antisense therapies for challenging or currently not druggable targets.
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