OKYO Pharma Limited (LON:OKYO) (OTCQB:EMMLF) said a scientist behind two blockbuster drugs will help spearhead the development of a treatment to tackle and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in people infected by coronavirus (COVID-19).
Dr Napoleone Ferrara, head of the company’s scientific advisory board, will lead work on the chemerin molecule, which has also been earmarked for use in dry eye disease.
The process has begun with the filing of patents covering the use of chemerin and lookalike molecules in the treatment and prevention of SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Ferrara brings with him a track record of success and is noted in scientific circles as having isolated vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF.
This discovery led to two blockbuster drugs – Lucentis, for eye disease which is sold by Novartis (SWX:NOVN), and the Roche Holdings (SWX:RO) cancer treatment, Avastin. Together they accounted for over US$9bn in sales in 2019.
"We are very excited to be working with our collaborating industry and academic partners to develop this promising addition to the COVID-19 therapeutic armamentarium and, of course, to expedite evaluation in patients as soon as possible,” said Ferrara in a statement.
“Beyond COVID-19, chemerin, which is a well-established modulator of inflammation, has promise for treating ARDS, a pathological condition that may be triggered by a host of insults to the lungs; for example, pneumonia, sepsis, pancreatitis and inhalation injury."
The promising anti-inflammatory treatment was licensed from researchers at On Target Therapeutics.
OKYO has previously announced it will be making an investigational new drug submission to the US Food & Drug Administration for the use of chemerin to treat dry eye disease.