Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:SRNE, ", Sorrento", ))) announced today that it has discovered a small molecule termed Salicyn-30 that demonstrated a potent 3-4 log reduction of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection in an in vitro virus infection experiment.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sorrento has developed a program targeting the entire continuum of care (for prevention, early treatment and rescue therapies) to manage COVID-19 disease. It is Sorrento’s belief that multi-modal therapies will naturally follow the approval of effective single therapies, regardless of individual drug potential.
Using a drug repurposing strategy, Sorrento has been looking for compounds that could synergistically supplement its current antibody program and, in that process, screened a collection of salicylanilide compounds of interest from a library of molecules developed upon a chemical scaffolding known as salicylanilides. In preliminary preclinical experiments, comparative data generated thus far demonstrates Salicyn-30 may be more effective than another salicylanilide, niclosamide, a small molecule previously used to treat tapeworm infection, which has recently entered clinical trials (NCT04372082) to examine its effectiveness against COVID-19.
Drug repurposing for other diseases has gained widespread attention in recent years as several such drugs have been approved by the FDA. Moreover, in the global emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is one of the strategies being implemented by both major pharma and academic efforts.
Sorrento’s intent on examining a salicylanilide library as a starting point for targeting COVID-19 (and potentially other coronaviruses) is grounded upon the concept that drug repurposing, is generally cost and time effective, with the potential for high returns and relatively low risk. Sorrento’s unique approach goes beyond identifying an anti-viral drug through repurposed molecule screening and is aimed at finding an optimal small molecule candidate that could be further developed for its potential to enhance the proprietary pipeline of clinical stage neutralizing antibodies.
Salicyn-30 will be developed initially as a stand-alone therapy to potentially reduce viral load in severely affected patients. In parallel, its potential in combination with Sorrento’s antibodies currently in development will be validated, both for synergistic efficacy but also to ensure that the safety of the combination therapy is established prior to human trials.
Dr. Henry Ji, Sorrento’s Chairman and CEO, stated, “Salicyn-30 has shown exceptional therapeutic potential, it is orally available and has greater systemic exposure besides being more potent than other salicylanilide niclosamides in preclinical trials to date. We see high potential value for this new small molecule inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 either as a standalone therapeutic or used in conjunction with the proprietary neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) STI-1499 and affinity matured STI-2020 being developed by our Company. Our ultimate goal is to be able to provide patients with solutions at each stage of the COVID-19 disease continuum and ensure all the therapeutic solutions we put forward work well together and enhance each other.”