For the past year, investors across the world have trained their sights on vaccine development. Why wouldn’t they? Over and over, we’ve been told that only a vaccine will get us out of this.
But, the vaccine is only one weapon in our arsenal, and we’d be wise to remember that.
Vaccines cannot provide complete protection for everyone, nor can they penetrate into the more remote corners of the world without years of funding and effort. When we add in the fact that the virus will likely continue to mutate during that time, we get a much less rosy picture of vaccines and their pandemic-busting properties. Yes, vaccines are tremendously important and a welcome contribution to the fight, but we can’t forget all the other weapons at our disposal.
One of those weapons, of course, is treatment. Presently, there is only one FDA-approved treatment for patients hospitalized with COVID-19: remdesivir. This broad-spectrum antiviral is famous for helping former president Donald Trump win his own bout with the coronavirus in October. While there are other therapies approved for emergency use authorization for outpatient care, their intravenous nature makes them cumbersome at best.
Immediately after taking office, President Joseph Biden signed an executive order focused on supporting additional clinical trials to aid the development of COVID-19 treatments. In addition to new development, several off-the-shelf drugs that are already approved by the FDA have the potential to keep patients out of the hospital. For example: colchicine, often used for treating gout, has recently been shown to prevent hospitalizations. Options like these need to be explored and pursued alongside vaccine development and distribution.
Just think of the flu. While the flu shot is an effective vaccine on the whole, we still need treatments like Tamiflu to save those who aren’t protected and to decrease hospitalizations and discomfort. In the same way, we need vaccines to curtail the spread and treatments to treat the infected if we’re going to come out on top in our struggle against COVID-19.
Fortunately, the following small-cap companies are all developing treatments that could make a difference in the days to come.
Atea Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AVIR) is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing, and commercializing therapies to address the unmet medical needs of patients with life-threatening viral diseases. The company recently released news that the first patient has been dosed in the Phase 2 virology trial evaluating AT-527 in mild or moderate COVID-19 patients in an outpatient setting.
On Monday, the company announced the publication of new data highlighting the highly potent in vitro antiviral activity of AT-527 against SARS-CoV-2.
Redhill BioPharma (NASDAQ: RDHL)
The specialty biopharmaceutical company recently announced the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) has thrown their support behind the global Phase 2/3 study of orally-administered opaganib in patients with severe coronavirus (COVID-19)
Tyme Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: TYME), an emerging biotechnology company developing cancer metabolism-based therapies, announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had granted another patent related to a COVID-19 treatment using Tyme’s metabolomic technology platform.
Tyme plans to advance TYME-19 into clinical testing soon and release results later this year.
Veru Inc. (NASDAQ: VERU) is an oncology biopharmaceutical company with a focus on developing novel medicines for the management of prostate cancer and breast cancer.
On Monday, the company announced promising results from a phase 2 study evaluating experimental drug VERU-111 in treating patients with COVID-19 who are at high risk for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
FDA has granted an expedited end-of-Phase 2 meeting to Veru to discuss the next steps, including a Phase 3 registration trial design for the VERU-111 COVID-19 program.
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