University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston & Moleculin Biotech Gear up for COVID-19 Research

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston & Moleculin Biotech Gear up for COVID-19 Research

Houston-based Moleculin Biotech (Nasdaq: MBRX), a clinical stage pharmaceutical company with a broad portfolio of drug candidates targeting highly resistant tumors, informed the world that they filed a patent application for their investigational product, WP1122, and its analogs and therapies to limit the ability of coronavirus and other viruses to replicate. The patent covers joint discoveries which manifest during an ongoing research agreement. This coincided with the biotech entering into an agreement with the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB)  to test WP1122 against a range of viruses including COVID-19.

The Deal with University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB)  

On March 16, UTMB and Moleculin Biotech announced a deal to conduct research on the company’s patented portfolio of molecular inhibitors, including WP1122 for antiviral properties against a range of viruses, including COVID-19. A hub of research, UTMB partners with other academic partners, private foundations, and the biopharma industry.

Government Money and Agencies Involved

As it turns out, UTMB’s Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases has ongoing agreements for joint research and various collaborations with the Galveston National Laboratory, an organization supported in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), as well as the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and other federal agencies.

Agreement with Summary

Under this agreement, Moleculin will supply the WP1122 and related inhibitors, as well as technical support, and UTMB will commence candidates against various viral disease models including COVID-19, in connection with the UTMB Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The Hypothesis

According to the Moleculin CEO Walter Klemp, “Published research has revealed that viral replication can be highly dependent on specific monosaccharides and had demonstrated the effectiveness of a compound known as ‘2-DG,’ a dual decoy of glucose and mannose, in the treatment of certain viruses.”

Mr. Klemp continued, “And, this is rooted in an emerging field of research focused on the role of glycolysis and glycosylation, or more specifically, on glucose and mannose metabolism in viral activity, including coronavirus. Importantly, although 2-DG has shown promise in the laboratory in relevant in vivo models, its potential as a therapy is severely limited by its lack of drug-like properties, including circulation time and organ uptake. Our drug candidate, WP1122, is a prodrug of 2-DG (2-deoxy-D-glucose) that, based on recently developed preclinical data appears to overcome 2-DG’s lack of drug-like properties and is able to significantly increase tissue/organ concentration.”

According to Dr. Donald Picker, Chief Scientific Officer conveyed, “the in vivo research supporting the use of 2-DG as dual inhibitor of glycolysis and glycosylation to defeat viruses like Coronavirus through multiple effects critical to the progression of viral infection is promising. And, with the improved drug-like properties of WP1122 and apparent ability to increase concentration of the drug in infected organs, we are excited to begin testing against coronavirus, as well as others. Our hope for this kind of therapeutic approach is not only as a potential treatment for infected patients, but even as possible preventative measure.”

UTMB Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases (CBEID)

Established in 2003, the same year the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute for Allergy and infectious Diseases (NIAID) selected UTMB as one of eight institutions to lead a Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research (RCE), and to receive a grant to construct on the UTMB campus one of two National Biocontainment Laboratories now known as the Galveston National Laboratory.

Moleculin Biotech, Inc.

Moleculin Biotech, Inc. is a clinical stage pharmaceutical company focused on the development of a broad portfolio of oncology drug candidates for the treatment of highly resistant tumors. The Company’s clinical stage drugs are: Annamycin—a Next Generation Anthracycline designed to avoid multidrug resistance mechanisms with little to no cardiotoxicity being studied for the treatment of relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia, more commonly referred to as AML; WP1066—an Immune/Transcription Modulator capable of inhibiting p-STAT3 and other oncogenic transcription factors while also stimulating a natural immune response, targeting brain tumors, pancreatic cancer, and hematologic malignancies; and WP1220—an analog to WP1066 for the topical treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Moleculin is also engaged in preclinical development of additional drug candidates, including additional Immune/Transcription Modulators, as well as compounds like WP1122, capable of Metabolism/Glycosylation Inhibition.