Antisense Therapeutics Limited [ASX: ANP | US OTC: ATHJY | FSE: AWY] (the Company) is pleased to advise of outcomes fromits collaboration to study the neurological aspects of Long COVID-19 (Long Neuro COVID-19) with US based researchers led by global leader in the field,Dr Igor Koralnik, at the Northwestern Medicine Neuro-COVID clinic in Chicago, USA.
The study has elucidated novel blood markers as potential diagnostic and therapeutic targets in the treatment of Long COVID-19 patients. Three (3) provisional patent applications have been filed in the US to seek protection for these new inventions.*
Under the collaboration, blood samples that had been collected from Long COVID-19 patients who had not been hospitalized (focused on those with neurological symptoms including brain fog, where blood immune cell changes were observed1),were used to generate data on up to 7,000 proteins in the blood utilising a large-scale protein analysis known as proteomics. Industry leading proteomics group Somalogic in Boulder Colorado USA undertook the analysis, successfully testing the samples using their SomaScan® assay and then the data was statistically analyzed using their Dataviz program2.
Theanalyzed data has identified a number of proteins that are significantly modulated in the blood of Long Neuro COVID-19 patients when compared to convalescent subjects who had recovered from Long COVID-19 infection with no persistent symptoms and to healthy subjects.This data has been included in recently filed patent applications as potential diagnostic and therapeutic targets for the treatment of Long COVID-19.
Certain targets when combined (as few as 5) identified all 48 Neuro Covid-19 patients and the 42 of 44 subjects who were convalescent or healthy controls suggestive of these targets’ diagnostic potential. A number of targets (<15) have been identified aspotentially amenable to treatment by currently available drugs or other therapeutic approaches on the market. The mechanisms of action of those drugs are known to modulate the discovered target proteins, therefore the marketers/developers of those drugs have been identified as initial prospects for partnering interest.
A smaller number of diagnostic markers have been detected that could assist in the identification of Neuro Long Covid patients for better designed clinical trials and potentially for earlier treatment intervention. Accordingly, the Company also plans to review its newly generated intellectual property (IP) with targeted pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies for potential commercial discussions, noting that for these discussions to progress, the Company and potential partner companies would need to agree on licensing and/or joint development of this newly generated IP to advance as either diagnostic or therapeutic programs.
Of the 94.7 million people in the US diagnosed as infected and surviving COVID-193, approximately 82 million (87%) people are non-hospitalized4, and 45% of non-hospitalized patients5 have developed some manifestation of Long COVID-19 syndrome which suggests more than 24 million people are afflicted by the condition to some extent. The main neurological symptom is brain fog (defined with the established memory tests conducted) and reported in 81% suggesting an impact on nearly 20 million people in the US.
Identification of appropriate biomarkers of Long COVID-19 have proved elusive.6 The National Institute of Health (NIH) in the US is funding a national research effort focused on understanding and treating Long COVID-19 beyond US$1 billion it has already committed.7
One of the aims of the proteomics analysis was to assess if Neuro Long COVID-19 patients may have been amendable to treatment with ANP’s immunomodulatory drug ATL1102 which has previously demonstrated biologic activity in MS patients11 and the ability to reduce T cells and modulate proteins involved in the blood of DMD patients(data presented at the 2021 World Muscle Society conference WMS-ATL1102-DMD-PROTEOMICS-Poster). Encouragingly, one of the potential therapeutic markers in Long COVID-19 patients identified from this proteomics analysis is also knownas having the potential to be significantly modulated by ATL1102 in DMD patients and therefore is suggestive of its therapeutic potential in Long COVID-19. The Company is looking to further explore the clinical potential of ATL1102 in this setting via applying for grant funding opportunities (such as that as offered by NIH) in collaboration with Professor Koralnik.
Dr Koralnik said, “The collaboration with Antisense Therapeutics has generated promising novel data in Long COVID-19 patients in identifying potential disease biomarkers and represents an important advance towards the goal of establishing effective disease diagnostics and interventional treatments. We look forward to continuing our scientific collaboration with Antisense Therapeuticsand to advancing such endeavors through our active involvement and support in seeking grant applications including with bodies such as the NIH.”
Dr George Tachas Director of Drug Discovery at Antisense Therapeutics said, “We are delighted to report on the initial outcomes from this novel and leading scientific collaboration with Professor Koralnik and his team. Our data has identified potential new avenues towards diagnoses and treatment of a disease that has negatively impacted the lives of over a hundred million people around the world. We look forward to continuing scientific advancements in the space in collaboration with Professor Koralnik and the further important IP that we anticipate emerging from this important scientific collaboration.”