In July 2020, the clinical-stage biotech Tevogen Bio (Metuchen, N.J.) announced its plans to use its proprietary T-cell therapy to treat COVID-19.
Now, the company has announced that it has received funding from HMP Partners, a team of physician-investors, to advance what it terms an “investigational curative” therapy.
Tevogen will use the funding to support clinical trials for the therapy.
The company filed an investigational new drug application with the FDA in October 2020.
The IND has has “rapidly moved through Thomas Jefferson University’s review mechanism, which should be completed within the next week or so,” said Dr. Ryan Saadi, Tevogen CEO. “The remaining required information for FDA approval is dependent on Tevogen’s suppliers. Tevogen is actively working on this and expects to have the necessary supplies ready within a month or so.”
The company’s TVGN-489 therapy consists of allogenic lab-grown virus-specific T lymphocytes that it hopes will recognize and destroy COVID-19-infected calls. “Cytotoxic T cells are by definition ‘curative’ and spike protein mutations do not compromise the efficacy — a major concern for the preventative interventions,” Saadi said.
HMP Partners believes the therapy could be effective against COVID-19 variants. “We believe it’s imperative to create a curative treatment that is not expected to be compromised by mutations,” said HMP CEO Dr. Manmohan Patel in a statement. “Unmodified virus-specific T-cells are well established as being effective and safe at treating viral infections, which is why we are supporting Tevogen’s efforts to develop a much-needed COVID-19 cure.”
The company continues to seek government funding to prepare for the therapy’s eventual manufacture.
Tevogen also has an oncology focus, but the pandemic convinced it to focus on fighting COVID-19.
There are few organizations exploring the use of T cells as a COVID-19 therapy. One such company is AlloVir, which has dual headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. and Houston.
While clinical trial data are needed to understand the safety and efficacy of T-cell therapeutics to fight COVID-19 infections, Saadi said the unmodified T cells the company is using have “a great track record of safety and efficacy when used to treat other viral infections.