Anixa Biosciences and OntoChem are set to enter the next stage of developing their potential anti-viral therapy for Covid-19 on obtaining results from a Proof of Concept (POC) animal study.

The companies are focused on developing an orally administrable, room-temperature stable, anti-viral therapy against SARS-CoV-2.

Anixa Biosciences president and CEO Dr Amit Kumar said: “Based on the promising preliminary data in the animal study, we have made the decision to proceed to the next stage of drug development.

“We have chosen one compound around which we will perform combinatorial synthetic medicinal chemistry to evaluate whether we can increase potency and optimise pharmacokinetics.

“The most promising compounds will again be evaluated in both in vitro and in vivo studies.”

According to data from the POC study in a Syrian Hamster model of Covid-19, which assessed two potential compounds and remdesivir, noticeable adverse effects were not observed on administering the drugs to infected hamsters.

On evaluating weight and behaviour, both Anixa compounds and remdesivir demonstrated comparable efficacy.

Furthermore, for all drugs tested, viral shedding data and autopsied lung inflammation analysis were inconclusive, probably because of the inadequacy of the animal model for such data.

OntoChem CEO Dr Lutz Weber said: “We expect this next phase of development to take roughly four to five months with another decision point at that time.

“We are pleased that our progress to date has been successful and we are looking forward to the next phase of development.”

In February, Anixa Biosciences initiated animal testing of two proprietary compounds for treating Covid-19.

One of the compounds tested in the animal study targeted an enzyme called endoribonuclease, while the other compound targeted another enzyme, which is the main protease Mpro.