Pharma Focus Asia

Mateon and Asili Research Alliance Enter Into Partnership for the Development of Artemisinin Against Covid-19

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Mateon Therapeutics, a leading developer of TGF-β therapeutics, announced the launch of its global observational study called ARTI-19, for Artemisinin Intervention against COVID-19, in partnership with Asili Research Alliance (Asili) of Tanzania. ARTI19 is designed to rapidly establish the clinical efficacy of Artemisinin in mild and moderate COVID-19 patients. In-vitro, the medical grade version of the supplement has proven potency and safety similar to Remdesivir with an EC50 = 0.45 ug/ml and Safety Index = 140. If clinically proven effective, Artemisinin can provide relief to overwhelmed medical infrastructure and families affected by the pandemic in resource limited countries.

Executive Director, Jennifer Woltz and Director of Research, Justin Omolo at Asili said “We are thrilled to partner with Mateon in the effort to study Artemisinin as a potential therapy for the COVID-19 pandemic. Our researchers in Tanzania are eager to start this trial, commencing as early as next month, to learn more about Artemisinin and generate new information for the management and control of COVID-19 in Tanzania. The daily case load in East Africa has kept steady with moderate and severe patients and we hope Artemisinin can be an affordable frontline treatment during the current COVID-19 pandemic here and elsewhere in resource limited countries.”

Asili is a group of scientists dedicated to improving health care equity in Tanzania. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asili marshaled its resources to conduct clinical studies of therapeutic remedies under the guidance of doctors and researchers at Tanzania’s premier research facility, The National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR). This observational study is led by renowned Dr. Amos Kahwa as Principal Investigator. He holds the position of senior research scientist at NIMR.

“We found a strong partner in Asili in Tanzania where the virus has challenged the economy and society. Since Tanzania embraces traditional medicines, the news of the availability of Artemisinin – a well-known herbal supplement – lends itself well to the standard of care for the general population in Tanzania”, said Saran Saund, Chief Business Officer, Mateon Therapeutics. “We are excited to launch our clinical program in Tanzania and are in discussion with additional NGOs in other parts of the world to make this an international effort to bring affordable first line treatment to resource-constrained countries.”

By targeting the host protein TGF-β that is essential for virus replication, Artemisinin may avoid future drug resistance mutations associated with the virus. By downregulating TGF-β, it can act as both an anti-viral and anti-lung damage agent. This potential mechanism of action is similar to the company’s leading drug candidate OT-101 which is also being developed as treatment for COVID-19 patients that need intensive medical care.

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