RenBio Joins Eli Lilly and Regeneron Bigwigs in Search of Next Generation COVID-19 Antibodies After $ 24 Million Funding

A year and a half ago, the disease targeted by RenBio’s main asset did not even exist in humans, but now nascent biotechnology is emerging with hope for COVID-19 antibodies and funding of $ 24 million. dollars to take on Big Pharma in the battle for a breakthrough treatment.

The New York-based biotech company today announced a licensing agreement with Columbia University for the new RB-100 bispecific antibody and a $ 24 million Series A. RenBio obtains global development and commercialization rights and Columbia acquires a stake under the agreement. The Ruentex group led the A series.

RenBio now has the exclusive rights and a cash injection to advance RB-100 for COVID-19 in clinic after therapy demonstrated ‘robust antiviral activity’ against UK, Africa variants from the South, Brazil, California and New York in preclinical studies.

“Our goal is to be at the clinic by the end of this year,” said Neal Padte, Ph.D., director of operations and development, in an interview.

RELATED: Preparing the Next Generation of COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments

RenBio expects RB-100, which targets two separate sites on the peak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, to meet the criteria to be eligible for an emergency use authorization of the FDA, according to Padte.

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants and the previous monoclonal approach to COVID-19 antibodies is what prompted RenBio to sign the deal with Columbia, said Rachel Liberatore, Ph.D., director of R&D, in a joint interview with Padte.

“There really was a need for a new generation of therapeutics to treat these variants, and the data largely supported the strategy of a cocktail-like approach, and so this bispecific molecule is really part of that type of strategy.” , said Liberatore. “We believe that the original concept of monoclonal antibody therapy as single agents is probably largely outdated in light of the variations.”

Eli Lilly certainly found out the hard way last month when the FDA revoked single-use emergency authorization of the manufacturer’s bamlanivimab monoclonal antibody. Lilly has had to go back to the drawing board and start clinical development of a new antibody that the company hopes will be more effective against the new strains.

Regeneron, which has a licensed combination antibody therapy called Regen-Cov, told analysts this demand for treatment will persist despite increased vaccination efforts globally.

Swiss biotech Memo Therapeutics joined the antibody crowd on Monday announcing promising preclinical results for MTX-COVAB, which is in preparation for clinical trials.

RELATED: Lilly Takes COVID-19 Antibody at Clinic

The RB-100 antibody will target mild to moderate patients, before severe disease onset, which is in line with other antibody molecules, Liberatore said.

RenBio actually comes from the field of HIV. Liberatore highlighted the work of co-founder David Ho, MD, professor of medicine at Columbia University and founding scientific director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center. The company has expanded anti-HIV antibodies to examine other infectious diseases, such as influenza and COVID-19, and will look at a number of cancer and inflammatory indications, Liberatore said. The goal is to bring a lead candidate to the clinic within two years, according to the funding announcement.

Founded in 2016, RenBio had already raised $ 4 million in a funding round, Padte said. Other non-dilutive funding previously came from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and AstraZeneca’s MedImmune.

In addition to the COVID-19 antibody, RenBio will also deploy new funds to further develop its proprietary antibody distribution platform, MYO Technology.

“It was our initial technology that was really the foundation for the formation of the company,” said Liberatore. “This is a nucleic acid-based antibody delivery platform, and it was created to address the need for affordable antibody therapies and prophylactics.”

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