Candidates: Antiviral drug candidates for COVID-19

Type: Drugs designed to target two specific proteins of the coronavirus: The main protease, Mpro, and an endoribonuclease shown to play a role in breaking up the RNA of SARS-CoV-2

2021 Status: Compounds ‘Should Be Effective’ vs. Omicron—Anixa said December 7 that data from a genomic variant analysis done with partner MolGenie on potential compounds to treat COVID-19 indicated that compounds under development by the companies “should be effective against the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2,” in addition to the Delta variant of the virus, as indicated by an earlier analysis.

Anixa and MolGenie analyzed the Mpro enzyme of the Omicron variant. Since no significant mutations are found in or near the active site of the Mpro enzyme, the companies reason that their compounds should be effective against Omicron.

Assigned to MolGenie—OntoChem said May 7 it had assigned its drug discovery technologies and assets, including its drug discovery collaboration with Anixa Biosciences, to the newly formed MolGenie, a biotech company focusing on drug discovery and development.

OntoChem disclosed that it and Anixa recently completed in vitro antiviral cell-based studies and in vivo POC studies in a Syrian hamster model of COVID-19.  Anixa has begun working with MolGenie to use the generated compounds and data, together with MolGenie’s network of experts in drug development, to advance the project to its next stage of development.

“With the need to focus the project now on selecting compounds for a comprehensive pre-clinical development program, we are convinced that MolGenie will provide a more focused approach to advance this project further towards an upcoming investigational new drug application,” OntoChem COO Felix Berthelmann, PhD, stated.

2020 Status: Anixa said July 6 that it and partner OntoChem had completed the initial in silico screening process of their drug discovery program, and identified an additional specific compound, as well as multiple analogs, that could function as inhibitors of the main protease (Mpro) of the virus.

Anixa and OntoChem said in June they identified four compounds that could disrupt the function of a viral enzyme called an endoribonuclease (also known as Non-Structural Protein-15, or NSP-15). Since then, the potential NSP-15 inhibitors have been synthesized and are being tested in biological assays, results of which the companies said should be available “in a few weeks or sooner.”

The candidate inhibitors of Mpro are being synthesized in a process expected to take three to four weeks, to be followed by testing in biological assays. Based on initial identification of the Mpro scaffold compound, Anixa and OntoChem have created a new in silico library of analog compounds for evaluation through additional in silico screening, in order to choose which additional compounds may be synthesized and evaluated in biological assays.

In April, Anixa said it was partnering with OntoChem to discover and develop antiviral compounds for COVID-19 and similar viral diseases. OntoChem said it will use advanced computational methods, machine learning and molecular modeling techniques to perform in silico screening of more than 1.2 billion compounds—including both proprietary and publicly available libraries—to evaluate if any can disrupt one of two key enzymes of the virus.

The companies reason that newly-designed drugs purposefully developed to target SARS-CoV-2 have the potential to be far more effective than a repurposed drug.

Anixa cited President and CEO Amit Kumar, PhD’s past experience working in infectious disease, including work done with the SARS-virus that emerged in 2003: “Anixa felt it was important to utilize its expertise and leverage its business model to address this pandemic.”

COVID-19: 300 Candidates and Counting

To navigate through the >300 potential therapeutic and vaccine options for COVID-19, GEN has grouped the candidates into four broad categories based on their developmental and (where applicable) clinical progress:

FRONT RUNNER – the most promising therapeutics/vaccines based on clinical progress, favorable data or both.

DEFINITELY MAYBE – earlier phases with promising partners, or more advanced candidates in development that have generated uneven data.

KEEPING AN EYE ON… – interesting technology, attracting notable partners, or both, but preliminary data.

TOO SOON TO TELL – longshots pending additional experimental and/or clinical data.

GEN has also tagged the most common treatment types:


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