NeuroScientific Biopharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:NSB) has initiated a new preclinical program in partnership with The Institute of Respiratory Health and The University of Western Australia (UWA) to study the effects of EmtinB and other compounds derived from Metallothionein-II as a potential treatment for patients suffering post-COVID fibrosis.
The company believes with the number of global COVID cases exceeding 50 million since December 2019 and rising rapidly, post-COVID fibrosis could become one of the largest future burdens on global healthcare.
Post-COVID fibrosis is irreversible and can result in severe functional limitations, such as severe cough, shortness of breath, need for oxygen and in some cases lung transplants.
“Can be extremely helpful”
NBS chairman Brian Leedman said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is bringing huge economic, social and health-care challenges.
“Once the wave of viral infection starts to recede, other problems will emerge that will need to be addressed.
“Given recently emerging data indicating that metallothionein (and hence EmtinB) can be extremely helpful in preventing the long-term fibrotic consequences that might follow this pandemic, we believe it becomes our duty to investigate that aspect of our experimental product and we are happy to conduct these studies together with The Institute of Respiratory Health.”
Recently published data indicate that pulmonary fibrosis due to COVID-19 is occurring in increasing numbers of patients in their 20s and 30s, creating serious future global healthcare burden.
The preclinical program will be carried out by the Molecular Pathology Research Unit at the Institute of Respiratory Health and UWA using NSB’s peptide-based compounds, with the company owning any intellectual property generated from the studies.
The company will provide funding of $122,000 to the institute for undertaking the screening phase with the initial term of the research agreement set at four months.
UWA’s Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences Industry Engagement Manager Rolee Kumar said: “The University of Western Australia (UWA) is delighted to be working with Neuroscientific Biopharmaceuticals on a ground-breaking research project that we hope will see positive benefits for patients who have contracted COVID-19.”
The newly initiated study will examine the effects of peptides generated from the alpha (EmtinA) and beta (EmtinB) domains of metallothionein (MT), on lung cell function and tissue fibrosis.
Using the widely accepted bleomycin model of lung scarring (fibrosis pre-clinical model), as well as primary cell cultures, the company will test whether the administration and use of EmtinB induce to reduce lung fibrosis.
Prior independent research represents a strong starting point to further investigate the role of EmtinB in potential therapy for long term respiratory complications of COVID-19.
The preliminary data from this new pre-clinical study is expected to be available during the first half of 2021.