Novartis Finds Positive with Molecular Partners Treatment for COVID

File photo. The Novartis logo on Stein. Switzerland, October 23, 2017. REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH, Jan 10 (Reuters) – Novartis has announced that it is preparing to license a new drug it has been developing with Molecular Partners for the treatment of COVID-19, the Swiss company reported on Monday, after obtaining positive data from the trials.

Novartis will pay 150 million Swiss francs ($ 162.92 million) to license ensovibep from Molecular Partners, in order to speed up production and get the drug approved more quickly.

The decision comes after the two companies said they had received positive data from a phase 2 study for ensovibep (mp0420), an antiviral treatment for COVID-19 that will now be developed and manufactured by Novartis.

Molecular Partners had already received an initial payment of 60 million francs.

The antiviral therapeutic compound DARPin (Designed Ankyrin Repeat Protein) met the primary endpoint of reducing viral load for eight days in an outpatient study with acute COVID-19 comparing single intravenous doses of ensovibep versus placebo. , as reported by both companies in a statement.

The two secondary endpoints also showed a clinically significant benefit compared to placebo, the partners said.

Novartis will first seek approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where it is applying for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

DARPins offer a distinct strategy for treating COVID-19 using a single molecule that can attack up to three parts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus simultaneously to neutralize it through multiple mechanisms, Molecular Partners said on its website.

(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Riham Alkousaa and John Revill; translated by Tomás Cobos)

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