Sound Pharmaceuticals (SPI) has received the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) unit National Center For Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) grant of $1.1m for developing new oral Covid-19 treatment, ebselen (SPI-1005).

The latest award adds to a previous grant of $3.1m, taking the NIH funding to a total of $4.2m.

A new class of anti-inflammatory compound with Glutathione Peroxidase (GPx) activity, ebselen has both anti-viral and anti-inflammatory activity.

Administered orally twice daily, SPI-1005 is being analysed for various neurotologic, neuropsychiatric and respiratory indications.

It is demonstrated to hinder the SARS-CoV-2 virus by attaching to and inhibiting the main protease (Mpro) and the papain-like protease (PLpro), the two enzymes needed for the replication of the virus.

The latest grant will support two randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials of ebselen in 120 adult subjects with moderate or severe Covid-19. 

The further funds will aid the company in progressing these ongoing studies at additional trial sites, which are leading US academic/university hospitals. 

Meanwhile, SPI partnered with ShanghaiTech University (STU) for the nonclinical testing of ebselen, along with various other antivirals to analyse their potential as treatments for various viral respiratory infections including influenza. 

In a press statement, Sound Pharmaceuticals said: “GPx is a new therapeutic target for several neurologic diseases of the peripheral and central nervous system including sensorineural hearing loss, tinnitus, ototoxicity, Meniere’s disease, bipolar mania and treatment-resistant depression.”

Apart from the Covid-1 trials, SPI-1005 is being analysed in Phase III trials to treat Meniere’s Disease and a Phase IIb trial of tobramycin ototoxicity in cystic fibrosis patients with acute respiratory infections.

In April last year, the company announced the launch of two Phase II trials of the oral capsule, SPI-1005, to treat patients with moderate or severe Covid-19.