Forbion, a European life sciences venture capital firm, announces a $2.3m seed investment in newly formed CoviCept Therapeutics, Inc., a California-based company that is developing a small molecule that inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and other RNA viruses.
CoviCept’s lead molecule has a unique mechanism of action that is based on interference of a host cell protein and is therefore expected to have a low risk of viral resistance. It has been demonstrated to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication in a relevant mammalian model at a clinically relevant dose. A manufacturing process for the lead compound has been established and it has demonstrated good bioavailability and safety in humans in phase 1 studies.
CoviCept was founded by Sam Tsimikas, Philip Gordts and Jeffrey Esko, all from the University of California San Diego. The Company’s aim is to initiate a first clinical study in the second half of 2021.
Professor Tsimikas, Co-Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CoviCept, commented: “We are pleased that Forbion has invested in us to support our continued development of a much-needed direct therapeutic option to the COVID-19 pandemic, and other RNA viruses. Forbion will provide the necessary financial and management support to allow the Company to achieve Phase 2 proof of concept data. Forbion’s track record and expertise in supporting the development of early-stage companies make them the ideal partner for CoviCept.”
Sander van Deventer, Operating Partner of Forbion, added: “Our investment in CoviCept is an example of Forbion’s commitment to responsible drug development. RNA viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1, MERS-CoV, Ebola, Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika are the most likely cause of future pandemics. A small molecule like CoviCept’s, that can be stockpiled to be immediately available and that could be used in multiple viruses, is of enormous benefit to global health.”
The board of directors of CoviCept will comprise Sam Tsimikas, Philip Gordts, Jeffrey Esko and Sander van Deventer (Forbion).