SLV213, a small molecule drug candidate, inhibits host cell cysteine proteases to block viral entry and has broad antiviral activity against coronaviruses, bola viruses, and paramyxoviruses
SAN DIEGO, July 21, 2020 — Selva Therapeutics, Inc. announced today that the company has raised $3 million in a Series A financing round from private investors. The proceeds of the financing will be used to rapidly advance SLV213 into clinical trials as a leading oral drug candidate for the treatment of COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection. In addition to COVID-19, SLV213 has the potential to be a treatment for multiple infectious diseases caused by other coronaviruses such as SARS, but also Ebola viruses and Nipah virus, as well as Chagas disease, a parasitic disease endemic to South and Central America and spreading into the southern United States.
Foundational research established the broad and potent antiviral activity of SLV213 against a range of viruses by inhibiting host cell cysteine proteases. Selva has generated additional data that shows SLV213 is also highly potent against SARS-CoV-2. Furthermore, the company has completed preclinical IND-enabling safety studies and a pre-IND meeting with the FDA to ready SLV213 for clinical development.
“Based on compelling preclinical safety profile and efficacy data, indicating high potency against SARS-CoV-2, we are focused on accelerating the clinical development of SLV213 as an oral treatment for COVID-19,” said Ted Daley, President and CEO, Selva Therapeutics. “The rapid development of SLV213 for COVID-19 can bring a valuable treatment to the market to meet the urgent need for COVID-19, as well as advance a pandemic preparedness drug with the potential to fight multiple life-threatening infectious diseases and protect global health.”
Viruses work by infecting host cells and hijacking the cell’s replication machinery. A (spike) protein present on the viral envelope must bind to a receptor on the surface of the host cell and be activated in order to enter the cell. This activation is mediated by a host cysteine protease, cathepsin L. SLV213 is designed to block cathepsin L, thereby preventing the activation of the viral spike protein and blocking viral entry into host cells.
“Antivirals that specifically target the virus can be highly effective but can become ineffective if the virus mutates and cannot be used broadly to treat other viral infections,” said James McKerrow, Ph.D., M.D., Distinguished Professor and Dean, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of California San Diego and scientific advisor, Selva Therapeutics. “Because SLV213 acts on the host cell to block viral entry, which is a conserved mechanism across many types of viruses, it has the potential to retain effectiveness against viral mutations and avoid resistance. It may also be a highly potent therapy against a number of viruses, either as a single oral agent or in combination with direct acting antivirals.”
While SLV213 can be dosed orally or intravenously, Selva is first advancing it as an oral drug candidate for COVID-19. There are many advantages to an oral therapeutic, including the ability to treat patients in an outpatient setting, a preferred treatment for mild to moderate and asymptomatic patients and for use as a prophylactic.
“The Series A investment supports the rapid entry of SVL213 into the clinic for COVID-19 treatment in Q3 2020,” said Series A investor and Selva Board of Directors member, Kenneth Kelley. “With the potential for non-dilutive grant funding as well as additional equity capital, the company could accelerate the speed of clinical development to advance a much-needed new antiviral therapy in the fight against COVID-19.”
SLV213 was developed based on research from UC San Diego and is exclusively licensed to Selva Therapeutics.
About Selva Therapeutics
Selva Therapeutics is a privately held biotechnology company dedicated to the development of therapeutics for infectious diseases. The company’s lead drug candidate, SLV213, is an orally available small molecule novel antiviral therapy with activity against a broad range of viruses that threaten global health, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. In addition, SLV213 has activity against Ebola and Nipah viruses and has completed preclinical development as a potential therapy against Chagas disease. Selva is headquartered in San Diego. For more information, visit www.selvarx.com.