ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A Rochester based biotech company called Oyagen, Inc. has been testing a former cancer treatment drug as a treatment for COVID 19 — and they say it’s working.
The company is not preparing a vaccine, but a treatment that they say would stop the cell-to-cell spread of the virus in infected persons.
The drug, called Oya1 would serve as a ‘stop-gap’ treatment until vaccines are available.
The company said in a release:
“OyaGen, Inc. announced today new unpublished results from collaborative research with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick, MD, suggesting strong dose-dependent antiviral activity of its lead compound OYA1 against live SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent for COVID-19, based on in cell culture infectivity studies.
About OYA1. OYA1 has broad-spectrum antiviral activity in laboratory-based assays against the coronaviruses SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV and also is a dual target-specific antiviral against filoviruses such as Ebola virus. OYA1 was strongly more effective than a positive-control compound, chlorpromazine HCl, at inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 from replicating in cell culture. OYA1 had prior FDA approval as an investigational new drug for treating cancer in the 1960s but was abandoned for a lack of efficacy. Studies at that time demonstrated safety in nonhuman primates and human adults when dosed daily or weekly. Side effects may include cardiac toxicity in children when dosed every day. Side effects may be due to the slow metabolic turnover of OYA1 as demonstrated in earlier studies in mice, which suggested the compound may persist in tissues for greater than 12 days following a single dose, especially in heart tissue where cell turnover is low. However, its long half-life in tissues suggests that a single dose or weekly dosing may be sufficient for antiviral treatments.
OyaGen, Inc. will conduct further studies for the safety and efficacy of OYA1 in treating COVID-19 as necessary for regulatory approval. The company anticipates that inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 using OYA1 will serve as a stop-gap treatment until appropriate vaccines are developed. OYA1 may also prove timely in addressing the need for combination therapy for SARS-CoV-2 to avoid the emergence of drug-resistant virus.
OyaGen Inc is a privately held biotechnology company located in Rochester, NY. OyaGen is focused on the identification and early development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of viral diseases including HIV, Coronavirus and Ebola.”