Biopharmaceutical company Sorrento Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SRNE) took the stock market by storm in announcing the early-stage success of its novel coronavirus vaccine. The STI-1499 anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody was found to completely inhibit in vitro virus infection in the company’s recent preclinical studies. The news provided a welcome ray of hope to a world that is clamoring for positive developments related to COVID-19 vaccine.
After a four-day incubation period, 100% inhibition of the COVID-19 virus infection was achieved in healthy cells. The drug was able to bind to the S1 subunit of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein and completely block its interaction with the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. The results were especially encouraging because a very low antibody concentration was used in the experiments.
A dozen product candidates discovered during antibody screening
The positive development was the result of a diligent process whereby billions of antibodies in the company’s proprietary G-MAB human antibody library were screened. It identified hundreds of candidates that can bind to the COVID-19 Spike protein approximately one dozen of which can also block the protein’s interaction with human ACE2. This short list of candidates was further analyzed to determine their ability to inhibit the novel coronavirus infection. The STI-1499 anti-body emerged as a lead candidate after completely blocking the infection of healthy cells.
Chairman and CEO Dr. Henry Ji stated, “Our STI-1499 antibody shows exceptional therapeutic potential and could potentially save lives following receipt of necessary regulatory approvals. We at Sorrento are working day and night to complete the steps necessary to get this product candidate approved and available to the waiting public.”
Sorrento’s antibody-centric platform is designed to develop therapies that turn malignant cancers into manageable and potentially curable diseases. The company has pivoted its focus in recent months towards the development of potential coronavirus antiviral therapies and vaccines. Its pipeline already boasts several potential treatments including COVIDTRAP, ACE-MAB, COVI-MAB, COVI-GUARD, COVI-SHIELD, and COVI-CELL.
It is also developing a non-opioid pain management therapy called resiniferatoxin (RTX) which is in multiple phase 1B trials. Its treatment for post-herpetic neuralgia called ZTlido was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) back in February 2018.
The full results of the STI-1499 antibody experiments are expected to be submitted soon to a peer-reviewed publication. Sorrento is aiming to create an “antibody cocktail” that can serve as a “protective shield” against novel coronavirus infection. It also wants the product to stay effective even as mutations of the virus render a single antibody therapy less effective over time.
The low dosage antibody thus far used in the experiments suggests that the drug is a good candidate for further testing and development. Sorrento’s manufacturing facility in San Diego is expected to have the capacity to produce up to two hundred thousand doses per month for any STI-1499 product candidate. In the meantime, the company plans to make one million doses at risk while it seeks FDA product approval.
Shares of Sorrento Therapeutics have more than doubled since the announcement reaching a peak of $10.00 on May 18th.
Sorrento Therapeutics SEC Filings