VANCOUVER – Qu Biologics Inc., a private clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing Site Specific Immunomodulators, a novel platform of immunotherapies designed to restore innate immune function, announced it is receiving advisory services and research and development funding from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program to quickly move forward the potential application of Qu’s lung-directed SSI, QBKPN, to prevent and treat infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19.
Unlike traditional vaccines that direct the host adaptive immune response to a very specific antigen, Qu’s immunotherapy platform engages and trains the innate arm of the immune system that is responsible for providing the body’s first line of defense. Optimal innate immune defenses can efficiently contain and clear infection before it spreads and plays an essential role in also directing the adaptive immune response against new infections. By training the innate immune system to protect the lungs, QBKPN is designed to protect the lungs not only against COVID-19, but also against a wide range of other bacterial and viral respiratory infections, like influenza. Importantly, since QBKPN activates innate immunity, the immune protection it provides would not lose efficacy if SARS-CoV-2 mutates, which is a risk with traditional vaccines that rely on antigen specificity.
Previously, Qu and collaborating scientists from Dartmouth College and McMaster University demonstrated that QBKPN significantly reduces lung pathogen burden in a range of respiratory infections, both viral and bacterial in nature. Of note, QBKPN treatment was shown to prevent mortality from respiratory infections in aged animals, which typically have reduced innate immune competency. The new support from NRC IRAP is designed to assess QBKPN’s efficacy in reducing the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection in animal models. This work will be conducted in collaboration with the NRC’s Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre.
Dr. Hal Gunn, CEO of Qu Biologics, stated, “QBKPN has already been tested clinically in a Phase 1/2 clinical study and has had a very good safety profile to date. If the planned studies confirm the application of QBKPN to protect against serious COVID-19 and viral respiratory infections, this support from NRC IRAP will significantly help expedite the clinical development and deployment of QBKPN for this significant unmet need for broad innate immune protection of the lungs – particularly in vulnerable populations such as the elderly and those with co-morbid conditions who lack innate immune resiliency.” Immunologist Dr. Shirin Kalyan, Qu’s Vice President of Scientific Innovation, said, “We have shown that QBKPN treatment can improve immune dysfunction that is present in the context of aging, asthma, COPD, and lung cancer. These same conditions increase the risk of serious COVID-19 infection. We anticipate QBKPN will help address the underlying vulnerability in innate immune competency in people who are at high risk of serious COVID-19 infection; thus reducing their risk of serious respiratory infections beyond COVID-19.”
Qu Biologics is a clinical stage biotechnology company developing Site Specific Immunomodulators (SSI), a novel class of immunotherapies designed to stimulate an innate immune response in targeted organs to reverse the chronic inflammation underlying many important diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, inflammatory lung disease and arthritis.