April 22, 2020

By Nuritas

Nuritas Enters the Race to Find Therapeutic Peptides for the Treatment of COVID-19

Focused on Creating ‘Cocktail’ of Therapeutic Peptides with both Antiviral and Cytokine Regulation Qualities to Modify Inflammatory Response Associated with COVID-19 Respiratory Damage


Grant Funded by Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE)


Nuritas, today announced that it has received a grant from Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) to identify therapeutic peptides for the treatment of patients with COVID-19. Under the terms of the grant, Nuritas will employ its proprietary AI platform to identify peptides with antiviral properties as well as peptides with cytokine regulatory properties, with the goal of creating a therapeutic ‘peptide cocktail.’ If successful, this approach has the potential to slow or stop disease progression by both mitigating viral replication and modifying the cytokine-based inflammatory response known to drive respiratory damage in patients with COVID-19.


“COVID-19 is a devastating infectious disease with enormous unmet need to diminish viral replication while also tackling the underlying inflammatory response that if left unchecked can lead to lung damage and death,” said Nora Khaldi, Ph.D., Nuritas Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “It is obvious that more than one solution may be needed to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Nuritas team is eager to leverage our proprietary AI platform, which seamlessly integrates vast quantities of data with strong scientific capabilities, to identify therapeutic peptides with the potential to address two key drivers of disease progression.”


Proof-of concept antimicrobial data for NuriPep 1653, one of Nuritas’ patented peptides, was published in September 2019 in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers of Microbiology in which an antimicrobial peptide identified within the proteome of the Pea plant was found to have bacteria-killing properties against a multidrug resistant clinical strain of Acinetobacter baumannii, a priority pathogen according to the World Health OrganizationNuriPep 1653 was found be non-toxic and had a low propensity for inducing resistance compared to a last-line antibiotic, colistin.


“Peptides are naturally suited to address infectious diseases, as they can disrupt protein-protein interactions. For example, if peptides were discovered to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 from interacting with cellular proteins, they could certainly help in our fight against COVID-19,” said Nigel Stevenson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Viral Immunology at Trinity College Dublin who has been studying the effect of coronaviruses, SARS and MERS upon the anti-viral immune response for several years. “The immunology research team at Trinity, together with collaborators in the United States and Hong Kong, are discovering that coronaviruses use a conserved mechanism to block innate immune responses and we are pursuing these investigations towards the development of novel therapeutics for COVID-19.”


“In addition, the super-computing strength, associated with artificial intelligence platforms, such as that utilized by Nuritas is fundamental in accelerating therapeutic peptide identification,” Dr. Stevenson continued.


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