Markham biotech receives funding for COVID-19 treatment

A Markham-based company has received federal government funding for a clinical study of a drug that could be an important tool in treating and preventing lung injuries caused by COVID-19.

“The funds will be targeted toward rapidly getting EB05 into the hands of physicians on the front line of this health crisis,” says Dr. Par Nijhawan, Chief Executive Officer of Edesa Biotech, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company. “By targeting the body’s underlying response, our experimental drug offers a potential solution that could be effective despite variations in the virus.”

Dr. Par NijhawanEdesa focuses on developing innovative treatments for inflammatory and immune-related diseases with clear unmet medical needs. It will receive $14 million to complete the second phase of a Phase 2/Phase 3 study of its investigational drug, EB05, for the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The funds were awarded under the Strategic Innovation Fund following a multi-disciplinary review of Edesa’s drug technology and plans.

“As countries around the world begin to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines to their populations, we cannot lose sight of the importance of developing treatments to limit the long-term impacts of the virus on Canadians,” Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne says of the funding. “Once approved, this therapy has the potential to be an important tool in treating and preventing lung injuries caused by COVID-19.”

EB05 is an experimental monoclonal antibody that Edesa believes could regulate the overactive immune response associated with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), the leading cause of death in COVID-19 patients. Specifically, the drug inhibits toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling – an important mediator of inflammation responsible for acute lung injury that has been shown to be activated by SARS-CoV2, SARS-CoV1 and influenza viruses.

The goal of the experimental treatment is to suppress inflammation, fluid accumulation and lung injury, thereby reducing the number of Intensive Care Unit patients and intubation/ventilation procedures, and ultimately saving lives. Hospitals and physicians interested in participating in the Phase 2/3 study of EB05 should contact [email protected] or visit www.clinicaltrials.gov (Identifier: NCT04401475).

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