Candidates: SBFM-PL4 and two compounds previously developed and patented by University of Georgia.


Types: Inhibitors of coronavirus main protease (Mpro), an enzyme that is essential for viral replication.

2021 Status: Sunshine Bio said February 10 that it launched a transgenic mice study of its COVID-19 treatment that has been under development since May 2020. The mice being used in the study have been genetically engineered to express the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) transmembrane protein in their lungs making them susceptible to lethal infection by SARS-CoV-2. The SARSCoV-2 virus uses the hACE2 receptor to gain entry into human cells to replicate. Sunshine said the goal of the study is to determine if its protease inhibitors will protect the hACE2- transgenic mice from disease progression and death following infection with SARS-CoV-2.

“Should these mice studies prove successful, we plan to submit the results to the FDA for authorization to conduct testing on actual COVID-19 patient volunteers in a Phase I clinical trial setting,” stated Sunshine CEO Steve Slilaty, PhD.

Sunshine Biopharma said February 4 it signed an exclusive license agreement with the University of Georgia (UGA) for two unidentified anti-coronavirus compounds which UGA had previously developed and patented. Sunshine said the next step in its development plan involves testing of the efficacy of these compounds in transgenic mice that have been genetically engineered to become susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2. The mice will be and subsequently treated with the test compounds to determine if progression to diseases can be arrested. Such studies are anticipated to be underway later in February.

2020 Status: Sunshine said October 7 it screened and subsequently identified a lead compound from its library of Coronavirus protease inhibitors, later called SBFM-PL4. The screening which pinpointed the lead compound was performed at the University of Georgia, College of Pharmacy under the leadership of Scott D. Pegan, PhD, director of the Center for Drug Discovery and Interim Associate Head of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences. The lead compound will be put through a battery of in vitro tests to evaluate its specific inhibitory activity against the SARS-CoV-2 papain-like protease (PLpro), one of two virus encoded proteases essential for viral replication.

Following the in vitro tests, the lead compound will be moved forward to the cell culture testing stage followed by mice studies before entering human clinical trials, Sunshine said.

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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