Durham’s Brii Biosciences bets $100M to advance possible COVID therapy

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As COVID-19 continues to mutate and affect millions of people worldwide, a biotech company with significant ties to the Triangle says it is pouring $100 million into its global efforts to win approval for a new treatment.

Brii Biosciences, which has operations in Durham as well as Beijing, announced its commitment to support a combination therapy called BRII-196/BRII-198.

The move comes after recent positive test results, according to the company, which launched in 2018.

“Following on the heels of a positive Phase 3 data readout from the ACTIV-2 trial, and as countries around the world continue to face a significant resurgence of COVID-19 cases, we are doubling down on our efforts to bring BRII-196/BRII-198 to a broad range of patients as a promising potential new treatment option for COVID-19,” said Zhi Hong, chairman and CEO of Brii Biosciences, in a statement early Tuesday.

“This investment reinforces the Company’s mission, building on the highly effective clinical outcomes, as we accelerate our strategic efforts to pursue regulatory filings, expand manufacturing and supply capabilities and establish key collaborations in both established and emerging global markets to pave a clear and compelling path to commercialization,” he added.

Brii disclosed the positive results last week.

Earlier this year, Brii raised $155 million in capital to fund its research and development. The company’s focus is treatments for chronic illnesses with significant burdens, including infectious diseases, liver and lung diseases, and other illnesses.

“So far, this therapy and other monoclonal antibodies show effectiveness against the Delta variant, which now accounts for almost all the COVID-19 cases in the U.S.,” said David Wohl, MD, professor of infectious disease at the UNC School of Medicine and vice chair of the ACTIV-2 study.

“We continue to need effective ways to treat patients to help them avoid severe illness and death. Monoclonals are one tool we have. That said, according to everything we’ve learned since the beginning of the pandemic, the best tools we have to prevent hospitalization and death are vaccines and masking in public indoor places,” he added.

Mark Derewicz of UNC Health News reported the details.

The study, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, evaluated 837 patients enrolled within 10 days of COVID-19 symptom onset and at high risk for clinical progression and followed them for 28 days following treatment. Twelve patients in the therapy group became hospitalized, compared to 45 in the placebo group. One patient in the therapy group died, compared to nine in the placebo group. Patients in the therapy group also experienced fewer grade-three or higher adverse events (3.8 percent vs. 13.4 percent in placebo group), with few events in the therapy group categorized as drug-related, Derewicz noted.

Brii has submitted Investigational New Drug applications in the United States, China and Hong Kong.

The company is publicly traded, its stocks selling in Hong Kong.

Original Source: WRAL TechWire