Many news reports are highlighting a novel strain of the virus causing Covid-19 and there seems to be a lot of drama created as flights to and from the UK are being cancelled. What’s lacking from these reports is information about this strain and why should there be so much concern about it.
The following summary is given in a blog maintained by Andrew Rambaut of the ARTIC Network:
“Recently a distinct phylogenetic cluster (named lineage B.1.1.7) was detected within the COG-UK surveillance dataset. This cluster has been growing rapidly over the past 4 weeks and since been observed in other UK locations, indicating further spread.
Several aspects of this cluster are noteworthy for epidemiological and biological reasons and we report preliminary findings below. In summary:
The B.1.1.7 lineage accounts for an increasing proportion of cases in parts of England. The number of B.1.1.7 cases, and the number of regions reporting B.1.1.7 infections, are growing.
B.1.1.7 has an unusually large number of genetic changes, particularly in the spike protein.
Three of these mutations have potential biological effects that have been described previously to varying extents:
- Mutation N501Y is one of six key contact residues within the receptor-binding domain (RBD) and has been identified as increasing binding affinity to human and murine ACE2.
- The spike deletion 69-70del has been described in the context of evasion to the human immune response but has also occurred a number of times in association with other RBD changes.
- Mutation P681H is immediately adjacent to the furin cleavage site, a known location of biological significance.
The rapid growth of this lineage indicates the need for enhanced genomic and epidemiological surveillance worldwide and laboratory investigations of antigenicity and infectivity.”
The global scientific and technical response to the Covid-19 pandemic illustrates the power of 21st century medical science and technology. Clearly, a goal, based upon that we’ve learned, can be and should be the elimination of future pandemics. While Evrys Bio’s daily work is on the development of therapeutics for a broad range of viral infections, we realize the importance of supporting efforts to prevent future devastating pandemics. To that end, Evrys Bio wants to highlight the work of organizations much bigger that we could ever be that have taken on this challenge.
Strategic initiatives focused on the big picture are 1) The Global Virome Project and 2) The Trinity Challenge.
The Global Virome Project (GVP) – The GVP envisions a global collection of partnerships targeting the vast pool of unknown future viral threats through the development of a comprehensive ecologic and genetic database of virtually all naturally-occurring viruses. Through the GVP, unknown viruses will be isolated and their sequences shared in a publicly-accessible database. This database and associated scientific publications will enable us to target high impact interventions to prevent spillover at high-risk animal human interfaces. Similarly, the work of the GVP will yield benefits by accelerating the development of new diagnostics, vaccine technologies, medicines and risk mitigation strategies against emerging viral diseases. GVP Ten Year Plan.
The Trinity Challenge (TC) – New technologies are driving rapid progress in vaccines and medicines and we are seeing unprecedented collaboration and effort between companies. TC seeks to assure the world is better prepared for future pandemics. COVID-19 has shown there is a clear need to better identify, better respond, and better recover from health emergencies. TC’s focus is assuring that data and analytics is widely available to identify, generate, and provide insights which shall contribute to the goal of a world better protected from health emergencies. TC is supported by high tech organizations varying from Plantir, Microsoft, Google, to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, BD, GSK and international universities.
Therapeutics and vaccine development for infectious diseases could be transformed according to Viewpoint published in Science this week by Rajesh Gupta (SCIENCE : 913-914)*
Please read the whole article for a look a modern approach to infectious diseases here: SCIENCE 20 NOV 2020
Amesh Adaljaa of the Center for Health Security, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Thomas Inglesby of the Department of Environmental Health and
Engineering, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA wrote a editorial in EXPERT REVIEW OF ANTI-INFECTIVE THERAPY (2019, VOL. 17, NO. 7, 467–470) spelling out the need for broad spectrum antiviral agents to minimize the impact of future pandemics. Click Here to see the full editorial.
Evrys Bio’s CEO Lillian Chiang will address the topic “Are there broad spectrum modalities for targeting SARS-CoV-2 that could be useful against other viruses and thus for future pandemic response?” at the upcoming NIH Symposium scheduled for Friday, November 6, 2020
11:00 AM – 3:30 PM Eastern Time
On October 7, 2020, staff scientist Dr. Liudi Tang presented at the Special isirv-AVG Virtual Conference on ‘Therapeutics for COVID-19’ . Dr. Tang will present the most recent data for one of Evrys Bio’s drug leads which has been demonstrated to have a broad spectrum of activities against a variety of viruses involved in human disease.
The slides that summarize his presentation can be found below.
Tuesday, October 6 and Wednesday, October 7, Evrys Bio will be represented at the premier mid-Atlantic biotech and pharmaceutical partnering conference. Dr. Lillian Chiang, CEO and Dana Fowlkes, CBO will be representing Evrys Bio. This virtual conference has been extended to a total of four days to permit more opportunities for one on one partnering discussions. Evrys Bio is seeking potential partners to participate in the clinical development of lead candidates in serious respiratory diseases and viral hepatitis.
For more information go HERE
Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center of Bucks County is once again in the spotlight, this time as the recipient of more than $1 million in state grants to help with research in pursuing a treatment and vaccine for COVID-19.
Of 23 state awards, the biotechnology center, located next to the Doylestown Airport in Buckingham, received four grants, bringing in $1.1 million of the $10 million statewide allocation. The money will help support the biotech center’s renovation plans, which will add research and training labs, more than 100 new jobs and new offices for COVID-19 research and development.
Two grants will go to scientists developing potential COVID-19 treatments at the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute at the biotech center and a hub for virology research for more than 17 years.
Another $322,000 grant is going to one of the center’s member companies, Evrys Bio. The company’s scientists are developing host-targeted antiviral drugs that can block the growth of different respiratory viruses including coronaviruses, and that can provide a high barrier to drug resistance.
Lillian Chiang, CEO of Evrys Bio, said her company’s goal is to develop broad-spectrum drugs that treat multiple viruses causing respiratory disease, rather than a single virus.
“We are grateful for these funds from the state of Pennsylvania that will enable us to extend our testing to SARS-CoV2, speeding our efforts to contribute to a COVID-19 solution,” said Chiang.
The biotechnology center, which opened in 2006, has more than 70 member companies, 41 of which have offices or labs in the facility.
Governor Tom Wolf announced that 23 awardees will receive $10 million in grant funding through the COVID-19 Vaccines, Treatments and Therapies (CV-VTT) program to support the rapid advancement of vaccines, treatments and therapies by qualified biotechnology entities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evrys Bio was awarded over $300,000 to develop treatments for virus caused respiratory infections. To date, Evrys Bio has seen excellent activity of certain proprietary pre-clinical leads against both corona viruses and influenza viruses.