Biocept To Begin COVID-19 Testing; BioCryst, Athersys, Can-Fite To Research Potential Treatments In Clinics

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the globe, having claimed over 115,000 lives, health care companies have are pursuing diagnostics tests, potential vaccines and therapies.

The following companies provided updates Monday on their coronavirus programs.

Biocept To Accept COVID-19 Testing Requests 

San Diego, California-based Biocept Inc BIOC, a provider of liquid biopsy tests, said in a Thursday press release that it intends to begin accepting physician-ordered COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing requests for processing beginning April 15. 

Biocept said it has partnered with a national clinician network to accept patient samples and may obtain additional agreements as test capacity is increased. The company's lab will use the FDA-approvedThermo Fisher Scientific Inc. TMO Scientific TaqPath and kit for SARS-CoV2, which received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA. 

"I am very thankful to our laboratory team for stepping up and quickly validating COVID-19 testing, in addition to the vital work we do each day for patients diagnosed with cancer," Biocept CEO Mike Nall said in a statement. 

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See also: The Week Ahead In Biotech: Urogen FDA Decision, Amarin, J&J Earnings And More COVID-19 Updates

BioCryst Opens Enrollment In Brazilian Trial Of Potential SARS-CoV-2 Treatment

BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. BCRX said it has opened enrollment into a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study to assess the efficacy and antiviral effects of its galidesivir in patients with COVID-19.

The trial will be funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, according to the company. 

Galidesivir is an investigational broad-spectrum antiviral drug that was found to be safe and well-tolerated in an Phase 1 trial conduced in healthy subjects, BioCryst said. It also showed broad-spectrum activity in labs against more than 20 RNA viruses belonging to nine families, including the coronaviruses that cause MERS and SARS.

The company said the planned trial will be conducted in Brazil under a U.S. IND, and the protocol has been approved by the Brazilian regulatory agencies.

"We have begun to see COVID-19 cases in Brazil, and we have a good opportunity to enroll and treat patients earlier in their disease course to determine if galidesivir can benefit patients with COVID-19," said Dr. Esper Kallas, principal investigator of the study.

Athersys Gets FDA Nod For Pivotal Phase 2/3 Study Of MultiStem Therapy For COVID-19 Induced ARDS

Athersys Inc ATHX said the FDA has authorized the company to initiate a Phase 2/3 pivotal study to assess the safety and efficacy of MultiStem therapy in subjects with moderate-to-severe acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, induced by the COVID-19 disease.

Since the program falls under the company's current IND application for its completed MUST-ARDS study, it is not required to file a new IND.

Athersys said it plans to open the first clinical sites for recruitment of the MACOVIA study this quarter. 

Can-Fite To Begin Enrollment, Dosing In COVID-19 Trial Immediately

Can-Fite BioPharma Ltd. CANF said it has received approval from the Institutional Review Board at Israel's Rabin Medical Center to initiate a pilot clinical study of its drug candidate Piclidenoson for the treatment of moderate-to-severe symptoms in coronavirus infected patients.

The company announced in late March that it has submitted Piclidenoson to the institute for a COVID-19 compassionate use program.

Patient enrollment and dosing will begin immediately, the company said.

"Piclidenoson's anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-rheumatic properties combined with its excellent safety profile make it a strong candidate for the potential treatment of coronavirus," Dr. Pnina Fishman, CEO of Can-Fite, said in a statement. 

Price Action

  • Biocept shares were jumping 63.3% to 58 cents at the time of publication Monday. 
  • BioCryst shares were gaining 21.27% to trade at $2.51.
  • Athersys was moving up 8.59% to $3.16. 
  • Can-Fite shares were surging 44.83% to $2.10. 

Related Link: Morgan Stanley Downgrades Lilly On Valuation, Says Growth, Pipeline Potential Balanced By Stock Premium

Posted In: coronavirusCovid-19BiotechNewsHealth CareTrading IdeasGeneral

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