Sound Pharmaceuticals (SPI) received a unit from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for the Advancement of Translational Science (NCATS) donation of $ 1.1 million to develop a new oral treatment for Covid-19, ebselen (SPI-1005).

The latest award adds to a previous grant of $ 3.1 million, increasing NIH funding to a total of $ 4.2 million.

A new class of anti-inflammatory compounds with glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity, ebselen has both antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity.

Administered orally twice daily, SPI-1005 was analyzed for various neurological, neuropsychiatric, and respiratory indications.

It has been shown to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 virus by binding to and inhibiting basic protease (Mpro) and papain-like protease (PLpro), the two enzymes required for virus replication.

The latest grant will support two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials of ebselen in 120 adult subjects with moderate or severe Covid-19.

Further funds will help the company advance these ongoing studies to additional test sites that are leading US academic / university hospitals.

Meanwhile, SPI has partnered with ShanghaiTech University (STU) to conduct non-clinical testing of ebselen, along with various other antivirals, to analyze their potential for treating a variety of viral respiratory infections, including influenza.

In a press release, Sound Pharmaceuticals said: “GPx is a new therapeutic target for several neurological diseases of the peripheral and central nervous systems, including sensory hearing loss, tinnitus, ototoxicity, Meniere’s disease, bipolar mania and treatment-resistant depression.

In addition to the Covid-1 trials, SPI-1005 was analyzed in a phase III study to treat Meniere’s disease and a phase IIb otobotoxicity study of tobramycin in patients with cystic fibrosis with acute respiratory infections.

In April last year, the company announced the launch of two phase II trials of the oral capsule, SPI-1005, for the treatment of patients with moderate or severe Covid-19.

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