The Latest Coronavirus Developments From Biotechs: La Jolla Provides Giapreza In Italy, Enanta Researches Antivirals

The Latest Coronavirus Developments From Biotechs: La Jolla Provides Giapreza In Italy, Enanta Researches Antivirals

The following are the latest biotech announcements from late Thursday and Friday morning on the development of products targeting the coronavirus. 


The Shanghai-based biopharma said Friday it is initiating the development pf TJM2 to treat cytokine storms in severe and critically ill patients caused by COVID-19. TJM2 is a neutralizing antibody against human granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor, an important cytokine that plays a key role in acute and chronic inflammation.

The company said it is awaiting FDA acceptance of an investigational new drug application. 

La Jolla Pharmaceutical Company LJPC

La Jolla said Friday that it is providing Giapreza in Italy for compassionate use in patients with septic shock associated with COVID-19. Giapreza was approved by the FDA in 2017 as a vasoconstrictor to increase blood pressure in adults with septic or other distributive shock.

It was later approved by the European Commission for treating refractory hypotension in adults with septic or other distributive shock.

The drug, though approved by the EC, is not yet commercially available.

Italian law allows authorized medicines for life-threatening and rare illnesses to be made available prior to commercial launch, according to La Jolla. 

Enanta Pharmaceuticals Inc ENTA

Enanta Pharma said Friday it has initiated a program to discover direct-acting antiviral drug candidates for treating patients infected with the coronavirus. The company said it is drawing upon its expertise in virology.

The company is also screening compounds from its antiviral compound library for potential activity against COVID-19.

See also: How Close Are Biotechs To Bringing A COVID-19 Treatment To Market?


Canadian biotech Can-Fite said Friday it is entering into a collaborative research agreement with the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Templeton University, Philadelphia, to support research directed by Dr. Kamel Khalili, who is exploring the antiviral activity of piclidenoson on the coronavirus' viral load in a mammalian cell model system as a first step.

Piclidenoson is Can-Fite's investigational Phase 3 asset currently being evaluated for rheumatoid arthritis and moderate-to-severe psoriasis.

Roche Holdings AG Basel ADR Common Stock RHHBY

Roche said Friday that the FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization for the cobas SARS-CoV-2 Test.

Eli Lilly And Co LLY

Lilly said Thursday that it's collaborating with AbCellera, a privately held company developing therapeutic antibodies, to co-develop antibody products for treating COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Opko Health Inc. OPK and Aytu Bioscience Inc AYTU announced updates to their COVID-19 initiatives.

Opko said Friday that its BioReference Labs subsidiary has begun accepting specimens for testing of COVID-19 from health care providers, clinics and health systems throughout the U.S.

The company has announced a partnership with the New York State Department of Health for the first public drive-through testing facility on the East Coast. BioReference Labs is also planning to offer up to 5,000 tests a day at additional testing sites to be set up next week.

Aytu announced the establishment Friday of a COVID-19 inquiry procedure to ensure the company adequately responds to inbound inquires from professionals and the public.

The company said Tuesday that it clinched a distribution deal for a COVID-19 IgG/IgM Rapid Test.

Biotech Price Action

  • La Jolla was rallying 8.92% to $4.15
  • Can-Fite shares were rallying 5.26% to $1.40.
  • Lilly shares were advancing 5.09% to $132.44.
  • Opko Health was jumping 39.08% to $1.98.
  • Aytu was slipping 20.65% to $1.46. 
  • OTC-listed Roche shares were up 7.77% at $38.43. 

Related Link: Inovio Continues To Rip Higher On Gates Foundation Funding For DNA Vaccine Delivery Device

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