Protinhi starts two innovative projects on broad-spectrum antivirals to tackle future corona and flavi-viral pandemics

Protinhi Therapeutics is proud to announce that we started two high-potential antiviral development projects we have initiated as collaborative efforts between leading academic groups and innovative SMEs. Both projects aim to develop novel proprietary drugs to fight viral diseases with a high risk to cause epidemic and pandemic outbreaks.

The FlaviCure project is partially subsidized by the Eurostars program and was ranked as most innovative project out of over 350 reviewed projects. FlaviCure will develop broad-spectrum antivirals against a flaviviruses like dengue, Zika and WestNile-virus and is a collaboration between the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology and SME Chimera Biotech, both based in Germany (see below for more information on the project).

PanCoroNed is a Dutch consortium started to find novel broad-spectrum antivirals against coronaviruses including COVID-19. The consortium is partially financed by Health Holland and includes leading Dutch virology groups from LUMC and Utrecht University together with the Radboud Univsersity and innovative Dutch SMEs Avivia and Protinhi Therapeutics (see below for more information on the project).

Protinhi's solutioin

FlaviCure consortium awarded as most innovative Eurostars project​

  • FLAVICURE aims to develop candidate preclinical lead compounds with broad-spectrum antiviral activities against different flaviviruses
  • The consortium is composed of leading parties in antiviral drug discovery, flaviviral disease models and state-of-the-art ImmunoAssays

Together with German partners Chimera Biotech and the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology (IZI), the FLAVICURE Eurostars project kicked of in May 2020. FLAVICURE was selected by Eurostars as highest-ranked proposal. The consortium project aims to develop novel, broad-spectrum antiviral drugs and an ultra-sensitive immunoassay to treat and detect infectious diseases caused by flaviviruses, including dengue (DENV), West Nile (WNV) and Zika (ZIKV).

Flaviviruses are mostly transmitted by mosquitos and several members of them are rapid-emerging viral threat with high potential to cause future epidemics or even pandemics. On average, over 3 billion people are at risk for contracting dengue, Zika or Westnile virus, with 395 million infections and 25,000 deaths from the most vulnerable group of the population (children, or elderly depending on the disease) each year. The local or regional flaviviral outbreaks in this decade only have resulted in huge socio-economical burdens globally, with ~€11B as estimated annual healthcare expenses. Various serious complications may occur while infected by different flaviviruses, including dengue shock syndrome, West Nile Neuroinvasive Diseases and ZIKV-induced microcephaly. Up until now, there is no treatment neither proper vaccine available for dengue, West Nile and Zika. FLAVICURE aims to develop potent chemical compounds with broad-spectrum antiviral activities against different flaviviruses.

“Broad-spectrum antivirals is a promising approach for future healthcare, since it provides not only therapeutic treatments but also prophylaxis to combat upcoming viral threats. We intend to innovate antiviral drugs in a more efficient way.” clarifies Bernd van Buuren, CEO of Protinhi Therapeutics. The chemical library of Protinhi Therapeutics is a new class of inhibitors targeting viral proteases which are highly conserved among flaviviruses. With the unique and complementary capabilities of the consortium partners we expect to accelerate development of compounds to preclinical stage with a focus on their broad-spectrum antiviral activities. Chimera Biotech plays a pivotal role in supporting the bioanalytical assays in this consortium with its proprietary Imperacer platform. The German Fraunhofer IZI is specialized in animal models of infectious diseases, particularly flaviviruses. “We are glad that we can contribute with our animal models to the development of medications which have the potential to address high unmet medical needs.” said Sebastian Ulbert, head of the Department of Immunology  at Fraunhofer IZI.

PanCoroNed: Development of novel drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19 and related corona health threats

Health Holland, the Dutch Top Sector Life Sciences & Health has granted a 1.2 M€ project of a public-private consortium coordinated by prof. dr. Floris Rutjes (Institute for Molecules and Materials) of Radboud University and dr. Bernd van Buuren (Protinhi Therapeutics) to identify and screen novel drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19. The consortium involves leading academic groups and for-profit parties with ample experience in medicinal chemistry and virology and a track record in drug discovery and development.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has caused a significant disruption to life as we know it in almost all countries where it has spread. Governments, including the Dutch government, felt obliged to take drastic measures that halt social life and hurt the economy to avoid an overload of health care systems and intensive care units. During many press conferences, the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has urged us to get used to the new normal that would last until a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 would finally relieve us of COVID-19. However, at this point it is still unclear how long the effects of such a vaccine would last. On top of that, experts cannot rule out the possibility of mutations of SARS-CoV-2 that might not be recognized by a vaccine or antibodies of recovered COVID-19 patients. This highlights the urgent need for an effective anti-viral treatment against COVID-19 in addition to vaccines to combat the current and possible future pandemics.

Health Holland invests in a 1.2 M€ research project for novel treatments and prevention of COVID-19

In the project PanCoroNed, a public-private partnership of Radboud University, Utrecht University, Leiden University Medical Center, Protinhi Therapeutics and Avivia aims to synthesise and screen novel compounds that act as protease inhibitors, prohibiting SARS-CoV-2 to multiply and spreading its infection. These targeted viral proteases furthermore offer the possibility to develop broad-spectrum antiviral candidates against different current and future coronaviruses. Next to the development of new drug candidates, the team also plans to use their screening set-up to test the efficacy of promising existing drugs to treat COVID-19. The project partners consider this consortium as a promising start to develop cures against viruses posing a pandemic threat in a public-private settings. “Currently, there are no drugs to prevent infection or effectively treat Covid-19 patients. With this project, we aim to eventually develop new antiviral small molecule drugs to alter this situation”, says Rutjes. Also project partner Van Buuren thinks PanCoroNed is a good start. “However”, he adds “there are several steps to take from proof-of-concept in a lab to a marketed drug. This involves in addition to academic research also pharmaceutical development. If we want to be ready for the next pandemic, there need to be further investments to expand the current consortium with the necessary drug development expertise”.

PanCoroNed receives funding within a special COVID-19 call of Health Holland and will last for two years. See also the official site of Health Holland with the project description of PanCoroNed.