The European life sciences venture capital firm Forbion announces a $2.3 million seed investment in the start-up CoviCept. The start-up is developing a small molecule that inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2 and other RNA viruses. The small molecule targets a host protein critical for RNA virus replication. Therefore, it is believed to have a low risk of viral resistance.
In a preclinical model, the molecule has shown efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 infection, as well as with several other RNA viruses, including Zika and dengue.
A manufacturing process for the lead compound has been established and it has shown good bioavailability and safety in humans in Phase 1 studies. Forbion will provide the necessary financial and management support to enable the company to achieve Phase 2 proof-of-concept data.
CoviCept was founded by Sam Tsimikas, Philip Gordts, and Jeffrey Esko, all from the University of California San Diego, USA. The company’s goal is to launch its first clinical trial in the second half of 2021. According to the companies, a small molecule like CoviCept’s, which can be stockpiled to be immediately available and could be used on multiple viruses, is of enormous benefit to global health.
- Forbion, Naarden, The Netherlands
- CoviCept Therapeutics, Inc. (CoviCept), San Diego, CA, USA