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Ishan Majumdar
Ishan Majumdar
Articles (122)  | Author's Website |

NanoViricides to Use Gilead Sciences' Remdesivir in Potential Covid Therapy

The company announced its Covid-19 drug candidate for the IND application, which uses Gilead's remdesivir as its core

September 16, 2020 | About:

As the world struggles to return to normalcy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, pharma companies are in the process of building various potential therapies to counter the virus. One of the biggest successes in the treatment of the coronavirus has been Gilead Science's (NASDAQ:GILD) remdesivir drug, which is being used all over the world. Remdesivir has constantly been in short supply given the prolific spread of the virus, and there is ongoing research to increase its effectiveness.

NanoViricides Inc. (NNVC), a renowned development-stage biopharma player engaged in drug development for Covid-19, recently finalized its candidate, which uses remdesivir as its core and works to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment. This finalized candidate will be used in the company's Investigational New Drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in order to proceed to human trials.

Potential remdesivir-nanoviricide combination

Gilead's remdesivir came as a relief to the world when it demonstrated a visible improvement in the recovery time of Covid-19 patients, which led to its emergency authorization by the FDA. It continues to be one of the most sought-after medications for Covid-19, but it certainly has scope for improvement in terms of its effectiveness.

NanoViricides is looking to address this aspect through the development a therapy that can mount a multi-faceted attack to shut down the ability of the coronavirus to infect host cells and simultaneously prevent its multiplication. The company has developed various drug candidates to serve this purpose, which produced promising results in tests using cell culture assays as well as an animal model. In the company's most recent announcement, management finalized its drug candidate, called NV-CoV-1. The drug candidate uses Gilead's remdesivir at its core, coupled with its proprietary nanoviricides technology and is designed to attack coronavirus particles along with various infected cells that display the virus antigen S-protein while sparing uninfected cells.

Remdesivir is known for its effectiveness in attacking the replication cycle of the coronavirus inside cells. As per management, its combination with the NV-CoV-1 could potentially prove to be a much more effective cure for the coronavirus assuming that the necessary dosage level can be attained without undue adverse effects. This is where the results of the human clinical trials for the NV-CoV-1 will play a key role.

NV-CoV-1 as an adjuvant

NanoViricides has built a combined therapy using NV-CoV-1 and remdesivir and has termed it as NV-CoV-1-R. The company's candidate, NV-CoV-1, will act as an adjuvant to remdesivir – an immunological agent that is expected to boost the immune response of the body through the production of more antibodies to fight the coronavirus. This combination is expected to be significantly more effective as a solution. The NV-CoV-1 could potentially also protect remdesivir from rapid metabolism, eventually resulting in the body requiring lower and lower amounts of medication as it fights off the coronavirus.

It is worth highlighting that most of this is speculation by the NanoViricides management and the company has yet to produce a treatment for sale. However, its CEO, Dr. Anil R. Diwan, is highly optimistic about the treatment and said it is an important milestone for NanoViricides as they look forward to moving with the IND application with its new candidate.

Future possibilities

The recent announcement from NanoViricides could result in a number of interesting possibilities. First, there could be a potential collaboration between the two companies. If NanoViricides' drug candidate manages to clear the initial phases of human trials successfully, it could well become a potential acquisition target for Gilead Sciences. In fact, Gilead is known for acquiring companies that have demonstrated success in human trials. The best example is its recent acquisition of cancer therapy developer, Immunomedics Inc. (NASDAQ:IMMU). Either way, it could result in excellent returns for NanoViricides shareholders.

As illustrated above, NanoViricides' stock has dropped 30% over the past three months due to its slow progress on the Covid-19 drug front. The company has a relatively long process ahead for its drug candidate approval given the fact that its candidate is novel drugs and not a repurposed drug like remdesivir. However, its future prospects do appear to be very promising as long as the investors looking at the stock have a high risk appetite and are well aware of the risks associated with investing in development-stage biopharma microcaps.

Disclosure: No positions.

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About the author:

Ishan Majumdar
I am a qualified Chartered Accountant with a Masters in Management (Grande Ecole) from HEC Paris. I run a proprietary boutique financial advisory firm called Baptista Research (www.baptistaresearch.com) specializing in M&A, corporate advisory, equity research and valuation of listed companies.

I have nearly a decade of experience spread across investment banks, financial advisory firms, investment funds and other corporates in many different geographies, such as France, Spain, India and others. I was a part of the LBO Financing team at BNP Paribas where I worked on deals with a combined enterprise value of over $1 billion. I have also worked in mergers and acquisitions with Credit Agricole CIB and corporate strategy with Groupe Danone SA. Over the years, I have developed a strong specialization in corporate valuations, strategy and financial analysis.

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