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Aligos Therapeutics has chosen to advance the development of a broad-spectrum coronavirus protease inhibitor, ALG-097558, for Covid-19 treatment and prevention. 

ALG-097558 possess robust broad-spectrum activity against alpha and beta coronaviruses. Its well-preserved target site shows an increased chance of potent activity against future variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

This programme is part of a partnership and licence agreement with KU Leuven and the Rega Institute for Medical Research.

In all cell-based assays analysed so far, ALG-097558 demonstrated to possess superior potency versus nirmatrelvir (PF-07321332) against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

As against nirmatrelvir, ALG-097558 is nine to 20-times more active based on the viral variant.

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Furthermore, against the Omicron variant, ALG-097558 showed a ten-fold enhancement in cell-based potency versus nirmatrelvir. 

Aligos noted that the planned efficacious doses of ALG-097558 could be attained in humans without requiring boosting with ritonavir. 

The company expects to submit an application seeking clearance to commence a Phase I clinical trial in the second half of this year.

Aligos chairman and CEO said Lawrence Blatt said: “Despite the progress that vaccines have brought to combating the global Covid-19 pandemic, there remains an ongoing need for an orally administered potent antiviral therapeutic that broadly inhibits diverse strains of SARS-CoV-2 as this virus will continue to generate new variants that can potentially evade vaccine mediate immune responses. 

“The rapid advancement of ALG-097558 as a protease inhibitor that has potent activity against a wide range of coronaviruses highlights our internal and our KU Leuven collaborators’ expertise in small molecule development for antiviral indications.”

In March this year, the company halted subject dosing in the first chronic hepatitis B (CHB) group of the Phase I ALG-020572-401 trial of its antisense oligonucleotide drug candidate, ALG-020572. 

The drug development was also stopped after a participant experienced a serious adverse event.