Screening identifies several unique compound series that inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 nsp5 main protease, a validated target for the treatment of COVID-19 and potential future coronavirus outbreaks
Arbutus Biopharma Corporation (NASDAQ: ABUS), X-Chem, Inc. (X-Chem) and Proteros biostructures GmbH (Proteros) announced today that Arbutus Biopharma has identified several molecules that inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 nsp5 main protease (M), a validated target for the treatment of COVID-19 and potential future coronavirus outbreaks. Upon achievement of this milestone, as part of their discovery and research agreement, Arbutus has obtained a worldwide exclusive license to the identified molecules. The parties will continue to accelerate the development of pan-coronavirus agents to treat COVID-19 and potential future coronavirus outbreaks.
"Our goal with this collaboration was to identify unique and differentiated pan-coronavirus assets targeting the main coronavirus protease which could deliver a much-needed oral antiviral treatment for SARS-CoV-2 and any potential future coronavirus outbreaks," stated Dr. Michael Sofia, Arbutus's Chief Scientific Officer. "To have identified small molecule inhibitors that are potent and selective against M just six months after commencing this collaboration demonstrates the importance Arbutus, Proteros and X-Chem are placing on quickly developing effective and safe therapies to successfully combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We are excited to have achieved this important milestone and to move this program forward into the lead optimization stage."
In connection with achievement of this development milestone, Arbutus obtained a worldwide exclusive license to the identified small molecule inhibitors. In exchange for that license, Arbutus shall make a milestone payment to X-Chem and Proteros.
In April 2021, Arbutus, X-Chem and Proteros entered into a discovery research and license agreement focused on the discovery of novel inhibitors targeting the SARS-CoV-2 nsp5 main protease. This collaboration brings together Arbutus' expertise in the discovery and development of antiviral agents with X-Chem's industry leading DNA-encoded library (DEL) technology and Proteros' protein sciences, biophysics and structural biology capabilities and provides important synergies to potentially identify safe and effective therapies against coronaviruses including SARS-CoV-2.