Novartis obtains license for ensovibep COVID-19 treatment from Molecular Partners

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ZURICH, Jan. 10 (Reuters) – Novartis (NOVN.S) announced that it would obtain a license for a new drug it has developed with Molecular Partners to treat COVID-19, the Swiss company said on Monday, after having obtained positive test data.

Novartis will pay 150 million Swiss francs ($ 162.92 million) to ensovibep under license from Molecular Partners to accelerate its manufacturing ramp-up and obtain approvals for the drug more quickly.

The move comes after the two companies said they had received positive data from a Phase 2 study for ensovibep (mp0420), an antiviral treatment for COVID-19 that will now be developed and manufactured by Novartis.

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Molecular Partners had already received an initial payment of 60 million francs, including equity.

Antiviral therapeutic candidate DARPin (Designed Ankyrin Repeat Protein) achieved the primary endpoint of eight-day viral load reduction in a study in acute COVID-19 outpatients comparing single intravenous doses of ensovibep to placebo, said the two companies in a statement.

The two secondary endpoints also showed a clinically significant advantage over placebo, the partners said.

Novartis will first seek approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where it is applying for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

DARPins offer a differentiated approach to treating COVID-19 through a single molecule that can engage up to three parts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus simultaneously to neutralize the virus through multiple mechanisms, Molecular Partners said on its website.

($ 1 = 0.9207 Swiss francs)

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Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz Editing by Riham Alkousaa and John Revill

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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