Dutch Hercules Pharmaceuticals has published pre-clinical data demonstrating in-vivo results of its Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (AHR) inhibitor HP163 against viral diseases, including Zika and Covid-19.

The promising pre-clinical results of HP163 in Covid-19 were published in Research Square earlier this years. It is believed that the reason why AHR inhibitors are effective against Covid-19, as well as other viral diseases, is because virus infection triggers activation of the AHR, which limits the production of type I interferons involved in antiviral immunity.

These results has led to Hercules raising funding from Pharma Connect Capital and Samenwerkingsverband Noord Nederland to further investigate the promise of AHR inhibitors in Covid-19, as well as other viral diseases. The amount of funding raised was not disclosed, but as a result of the financing, Hercules will be re-locating to Groningen from Leiden.

Hercules CEO Bart Wuurman said: “We are excited by the novel finding that the AHR acts as a host factor for viral infections to allow viral replication.

“A remedy is urgently needed to treat zika and dengue infection, but mentioned studies also suggest that AHR inhibitors might be an effective oral treatment of patients with Covid-19, the virus which is holding our daily life hostage at this moment.”