KNOXVILLE, Tenn., May 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- NellOne Therapeutics Inc., the early stage biopharmaceutical company using a talented protein to plot a new future for regenerative medicine, announced today the filing of a provisional patent application around the usage of the NELL1 signaling protein in the treatment of respiratory viral infections including COVID-19.
The patent application, Methods and Compositions for Treating Tissue Damage Resulting from Viral Infections, is an extension of the company's pioneering research into the NELL1 protein as a candidate to treat acute major injuries in soft tissues. The application details the treatment and prevention of tissue damage and inflammation resulting from COVID-19 or other respiratory viral infections, including the regeneration of compromised upper and lower respiratory tissues via the administration of the NELL1 protein.
The inventors, NellOne Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer Cymbeline T. Culiat, PhD, and Shannon Eaker, PhD, have assigned to NellOne exclusive rights to practice the invention. The intellectual property is an expansion of more than 20 patents, issued in 8 countries, owned or exclusively licensed through a partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Department of Energy.
Dr. Culiat commented, "We believe that the NELL1 protein presents great promise in reducing COVID-19 mortality rates and addressing lingering health issues in survivors. Our therapeutic approach promotes biological pathways that reduce inflammation by restoring balance to the overreaction of the immune system and healing of multiple major tissues targeted and damaged by SARS-CoV-2 infection."
The patent application marks the latest initiative by NellOne following the recent appointment of entrepreneur Bill Malkes as Chief Executive Officer.
Malkes remarked: "We've already made significant progress in other regenerative medicine studies, but we are now answering the call to re-evaluate our science to address this global pandemic. NELL1 is a versatile protein that could be a platform for a wide range of regenerative medicine applications. Its use as a single therapeutic in the case of COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections would seek to reduce inflammation through natural regulation of cytokines while utilizing its known properties of stimulating tissue regeneration."
NellOne Therapeutics is also leveraging global partnerships in accelerating research on the use of NELL1 in treating COVID-19, including a research collaboration with the Uniformed Services University (focused on military-relevant research and training) and Dr. Roopa Biswas, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Dr. Biswas said, "Addressing inflammation in pulmonary disorders, especially COVID-19, is clearly a priority right now. We look forward to pursuing research focused on the important role that NELL1 can play in this effort."
High mortality in COVID-19 patients is partially due to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Doctors and scientists are experimenting with drugs and inhibitors to deal with the hyperimmune response, and related Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS), to treat COVID-19. These proposed drug therapies block cytokines and chemokines such as IL-6 and IFN-gamma, known to over-exaggerate the body's immune response. These therapies are often associated with undesirable side effects such as reduced viral clearance. Moreover, cytokine expression data in COVID-19 patients is inconsistent in different global clinical reports, suggesting these types of therapies might benefit a smaller portion of the affected population. Already expressed in various human tissues, NELL1 could offer a more holistic approach to treatment in order to balance the immune system during viral infections.
Published studies of NELL1 biology demonstrate its activity in restoring injured bone, cartilage, skeletal and heart muscle tissues, which establishes a strong scientific foundation to support its development as a novel therapy to mitigate respiratory and heart tissue damage caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection.
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