KU Leuven drug discovery unit involved in development of COVID-19 treatment

07 Apr 2022 | Network Updates | Update from KU Leuven
These updates are republished press releases and communications from members of the Science|Business Network

 Aligos Therapeutics (Nasdaq: ALGS), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing novel therapeutics to address unmet medical needs in viral and liver diseases, today announced that it has selected ALG-097558, a broad spectrum coronavirus protease inhibitor, as its drug candidate to move forward into development. The program is part of the collaboration and license agreement with KU Leuven, including its Centre for Drug Design and Discovery (CD3), a drug discovery unit and investment fund of KU Leuven, and the Rega Institute for Medical Research.

“Despite the progress that vaccines have brought to combating the global COVID-19 pandemic, there remains an ongoing need for an orally administered potent antiviral therapeutic that broadly inhibits diverse strains of SARS-CoV-2 as this virus will continue to generate new variants that can potentially evade vaccine mediate immune responses,” said Lawrence Blatt, Ph.D., MBA, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Aligos. “The rapid advancement of ALG-097558 as a protease inhibitor that has potent activity against a wide range of coronaviruses highlights our internal and our KU Leuven collaborators’ expertise in small molecule development for antiviral indications.”

ALG-097558 has shown superior potency compared to nirmatrelvir (PF-07321332) against SARS-CoV-2 and multiple resistant variants in all cell-based assays tested to date. ALG-097558 is 9 to 20-fold more active than nirmatrelvir, depending on the variant. Evaluation against the Omicron variant demonstrates a 10-fold improvement in cell-based potency for ALG-097558 compared to nirmatrelvir. ALG-097558 exerts potent broad spectrum activity against alpha and beta coronaviruses, and its highly conserved target site indicates a high probability that it will retain potent activity against potential future SARS-CoV-2 variants.

“SARS-CoV-2 will remain a global health challenge, and despite the availability of effective vaccines, we still need potent and safe antiviral drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19,” said Johan Neyts, Ph.D., Professor of virology at KU Leuven. Patrick Chaltin, Ph.D., Managing Director of CD3 added: “ALG-097558 exerts remarkable potent antiviral activity against all tested SARS-CoV2 variants. This compound has a very good profile to be further developed as a powerful drug against SARS-CoV-2 and other known, or yet unknown, coronaviruses.”

Projected efficacious doses of ALG-097558 can be achieved in humans without ritonavir boosting. Aligos expects to file a Phase 1 clinical trial application in 2H 2022.

Check out the CD3 website to browse through their portfolio of partnered and ongoing projects.

This article was first published on 5 April by KU Leuven.

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