COVID-19 Treatment Candidate ABX464 Shows Promise In Vitro


In an in vitro reconstituted human respiratory epithelium model, the investigational drug inhibited replication of the novel coronavirus.

Clinical-stage biotechnology company Abivax SA announced preliminary results of its drug candidate ABX464 against SARS-CoV-2 in a press release today. In an in vitro reconstituted human respiratory epithelium model, the investigational drug inhibited replication of the novel coronavirus.

While the results are a very early indicator, findings support further exploration of the candidate.

Antiviral testing was conducted at the International Research Center specialized in infectiology at Claude-Bernard-Lyon-1 University, VirPath laboratory.

“Although in vitro results cannot predict clinical benefits in patients, this antiviral effect against SARS-CoV-2 with ABX464 obtained in our laboratory is very promising, in addition to the known anti-inflammatory properties. ABX464’s antiviral effect and protection of tissue integrity are significant as they are based on a physiologic in vitro reconstituted human pulmonary epithelium model and not on the more basic monkey kidney Vero E6 cells model,” said Manuel Rosa-Calatrava, PhD, VirPath Co-director at the International Center for Infectiology Research in Lyon, France, in the press release.

ABX464 has previously been shown effective against inflammatory disease and ulcerative colitis.

“miR-124 specific upregulation by ABX464 can explain the triple effect of the drug candidate on inhibiting viral replication, down-regulation of cytokines that induce inflammation and tissue repair,” the company statement explained.

Because patients can display an excessive inflammatory response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) which leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome and possibly deathm, ABX464 is a unique potential treatment.

The drug upregulates miR-124 by binding to the cap binding complex, which investigators hope then downregulates the cytokines involved in a COVID-19 cytokine storm.

SARS-CoV-2 also requires one of the drug’s targets, dynamin 2, for replication.

The drug also has the advantage of being available for oral administration.

A clinical trial of the drug, set to take place in Europe, is pending.

“Our demonstration of the antiviral effect of ABX464 against SARS-CoV-2 further strengthens the rationale for initiating the miR-AGE clinical study, making ABX464 a promising drug candidate to be investigated clinically. With the recent approval of the miR-AGE clinical trial by ANSM (the French regulatory authorities) and the ethics committee, we will soon start patient recruitment to find out whether this triple activity of ABX464 can be translated into clinical benefits for patients diagnosed with COVID-19,” said CEO of Abivax Hartmut Ehrlich, MD, in the press release.

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