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Pfizer and Clear Creek Bio partner on COVID-19 antiviral research programme

The companies will identify a papain-like protease candidate to progress into the clinic

Pfizer

Pfizer and Clear Creek Bio have announced a collaboration aiming to advance the discovery and development of novel papain-like protease (PLpro) inhibitors and potentially introduce a new class of oral treatments against COVID-19.

Under the terms of the exclusive licence agreement, the companies will jointly identify a PLpro candidate to progress into the clinic. Once selected, Pfizer will be solely responsible for further development and commercialisation activities.

Clear Creek Bio will receive an undisclosed upfront payment from Pfizer and will be eligible to receive future potential milestone payments, as well as royalties.

SARS-CoV-2 has two essential proteases, the main protease and the PLpro, both required to fully process the viral polyprotein and assemble a functional replicase complex. In addition to its vital role in viral replication, the PLpro also contributes to dysregulation of host innate immunity and immune evasion.

Vikram Sheel Kumar, chief executive officer of Clear Creek Bio, said the company “explored the druggable SARS-CoV-2 genome and identified PLpro as a promising and untapped target.”

He continued: “Leveraging our team’s expertise and success in bringing novel drugs from idea to approval, we internally developed highly potent PLpro inhibitors. We look forward to working with Pfizer, a global leader in antiviral development, to advance a new class of oral antivirals for COVID-19.”

The programme will expand Pfizer’s anti-infective pipeline and, if successful, will complement its existing portfolio of COVID-19 products with direct-acting antiviral agents against different SARS-CoV-2 targets.

This includes Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir), an orally administered drug that should be given at the first sign of infection for the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and paediatric patients.

Commenting on the company’s latest collaboration, Charlotte Allerton, chief scientific officer, anti-infectives and head of medicine design, of Pfizer, said: “COVID-19 has proven to be a devastating and highly unpredictable disease, one with the potential to remain a global health concern for years to come.

“It is critical that we try to stay ahead of the virus, continuing to advance clinical development opportunities for our current oral therapy as well as innovating through our internal programs and strategic partnerships to bring forward additional monotherapy and/or combination treatment candidates that we believe may play a role in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.”

Article by
Emily Kimber

7th December 2022

From: Research

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