Stories: EU-funded company APEPTICO develops treatment for late-stage COVID-19 patients
Since COVID-19 has hit the world, many drugs started being researched to treat the most severe cases of coronavirus. According to the Austrian company APEPTICO, 20% of hospitalised patients suffer from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a potentially life-threatening complication of infection with SARS-CoV-2. The company, part of the EU-funded SOLNATIDE consortium, is accelerating the development of peptide-based treatments targeting these late-stage COVID-19 patients and conducting a clinical study at the Medical University of Vienna.
ARDS plays a major, if not the most critical, in the morbidity and mortality of COVID-19 patients. Several studies reporting the clinical progression and characteristics in hospitalised COVID-19 patients have focussed on the prevalence of ARDS amongst these patients, estimating that one fifth to one third of them developed ARDS. The observed mortality rate ranges from 16% to 60%. APEPTICO’s lead compound, the therapeutic molecule solnatide (INN) is being developed for the treatment of various forms of life-threatening acute pulmonary dysfunction and pulmonary oedema in ARDS patients.
For the SOLNATIDE project, APEPTICO has formed a consortium of leading European companies from Germany, Italy, Austria and Spain, to continue and speed up their manufacturing process, as well as the immediate employment of solnatide IMP for clinical use. The company, founded by Bernhard Fischer was one of the 18 projects shortlisted for EU funding in March 2020 - after the emergency for research projects to understand the new coronavirus pandemic: “In the past, we were only using our treatment for standard patients with severe pulmonary dysfunction. But thanks to the funding from the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, we made APEPTICO’s proprietary investigational medicinal product (IMP) solnatide available for medical treatment of patients severely affected by COVID-19”, noted Bernhard.
The startup, composed of 4 scientists, already conducted different Phase I and Phase II clinical studies for the treatment of ARDS, and according to Bernhard, they are now trying to enrich their network. After receiving the Horizon 2020 grant of € 667 025 to develop their SOLNATIDE solution, the company attended the 2nd edition of the ePitching to Procurers on COVID-19 to connect with hospitals looking for new treatments. “We applied to this event to introduce our product to this community of procurers. It was the second time that I was participated in this type of event and I found the ePitching very interesting. it was a great opportunity to learn about procurers and t other companies”, highlighted Fischer.
The 2nd ePitching to procurers on COVID-19 organised by the DG Research & Innovation People Directorate and the European Innovation Council, was a follow-up of the first EIC ePitching to Procurers on COVID-19, which took place in April this year. In the coming months the EIC will organise several ePitching with Procurer events, for the moment fully online, with applications running through the EIC Community. Keep your eyes on our calendar for more information.