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8 December, 2021 - 21:31 By Tony Quested

Wellcome recruits Sosei Heptares for Covid battle

Sosei Group Corporation has received unspecified grant funding from Wellcome to step up the fight against Covid, including mutants that may arise in the future.

Cambridge-based group company Sosei Heptares leads the charge and collaborates on this programme with companies such as Syngene International, Domainex, Fidelta, o2h Discovery, Piramal, WuXi AppTec and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative.

The money is coming from the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator and will be used to advance the pre-clinical development of the company’s novel oral anti-viral small molecules targeting the main protease of SARS-CoV-2 (Mpro), an enzyme critical to SARS-CoV-2 replication, as potential treatments for COVID-19.

Sosei Heptares initiated its COVID-19 R & D program in April 2020 with the aim of applying its world-leading structure-based drug design capabilities to design drug candidates that selectively inhibit Mpro.

The company has also been leveraging the highly conserved structure of SARS-CoV-2 Mpro as a basis for the design of small molecules that could be effective against predicted future variants of SARS-CoV-2 and other related human viruses.  

The company’s most advanced candidate resulting from this program, SH-879, has demonstrated potent anti-viral activity against SARS-CoV-2 as well as potential for oral dosing and a differentiated profile from other anti-viral drugs for COVID-19 that are either approved or in late-stage development.

Sosei Heptares will deploy the funding from Wellcome to accelerate development of SH-879 and other potential candidates through preclinical studies, targeting the nomination of a single clinical candidate for human trials with a convenient dosing regime and the potential for use without the need for co-dosing with other anti-viral therapies.

This work is being supported by a Wellcome grant through the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator – launched in March 2020 by Wellcome, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Mastercard, with additional funding from a range of donors to accelerate the development of COVID-19 therapeutics that address gaps in existing treatment research.

Miles Congreve, chief scientific officer of Sosei Heptares, said: “The past 18 months has seen incredible progress in the development of vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19. 

“We are very proud to be participating in this global effort and excited by our progress and the future potential of our own program to create an effective anti-viral agent that can be dosed as a single agent. 

“The program will benefit from the significant additional funding received from Wellcome and we are delighted to have this prestigious organisation as a partner in this endeavour.”

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