Insights Fall 2020

Page 84

Canada’s Edesa Biotech in Frontlines of COVID-19 Treatment Race AS COVID-19 CONTINUES ITS DESTRUCTIVE PATH AS THE MOST FORMIDABLE GLOBAL PANDEMIC IN more than a century, pharmaceutical companies around the globe are racing to develop drug treatments to mitigate the damage. Edesa Biotech, Inc., headquartered in Markham, Ont., is on the frontlines of that fight. Edesa has a monoclonal antibody COVID-19 (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome ) designed to treat acute respiratory distress system (ARDS), the leading cause of death for patients with COVID-19. Monoclonal Antibodies “Given how COVID-19 changed the world overnight, and how severe the disease has been, we decided to prioritize our ARDS Other Diseases project to see if we can help patients in the near future,� says Dr. Par Nijhawan, chief executive officer of Edesa, which he founded in 2015 ARDS is a common condition that affects three million patients a year around the world. It can impact all age groups and results from multiple potential triggers, including viral, bacterial or Edesa’s experimental therapy, which targets and chemical. Even prior to COVID-19, ARDS accounted for about inhibits toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), is intended to suppress ten per cent of all ICU beds in the world. this inflammation by blocking the initiation of a key During the current pandemic, ARDS has occurred in up pathway implicated in acute lung injury. Edesa has filed a to 42 per cent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and up to Clinical Trial Application with Health Canada, which has 85 per cent of patients in the ICU, according to the U.S. approved the Phase 2/Phase 3 study. Edesa has also Centers for Disease Control. The syndrome is primarily completed the manufacturing/formulation of the drug caused by an exaggerated immune response to the product to be used in the study. infection. After the virus enters the body, the body “Our product candidate has already been used in humans naturally tries to defend itself by and has demonstrated a favourable safety triggering an immune response, but in profile. We are looking to getting into severe patients the exaggerated, clinical trials very shortly and hopefully prolonged response results in dangerous have an approvable product in the near inflammation, damage and fluid term,� says Dr. Nijhawan. build-up in the lungs. Ultimately, he believes that focusing on “As COVID-19 patients clinically the prevention or treatment of ARDS can progress towards ARDS, key lessen the worry about COVID mutations inflammatory mediators are often and could also help allow economies to be increased. As a result, you get increased safely opened up with the assurance that cell damage, because even though the a therapy is available for somebody with immune response is trying to prevent even the most severe reaction. the body from getting damaged, the “We can potentially take away the reality is that the inflammation itself biggest fear factor. Especially with is causing most of the damage,� COVID being so rampant in the U.S., Dr. Nijhawan explains. we feel it will make a difference,� Par Nijhawan, Edesa CEO Dr. Nijhawan adds.

84

fall / automne 2020

BIOTECanada