Shares of Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE) - Get Report spiked Friday after the biopharmaceutical company announced it had received a $34 million government contract to develop a coronavirus protection and/or treatment.
The contract goes to its SmartPharm Therapeutics unit and comes from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND).
The money will pay for development through Phase 2 clinical studies of a gene-encoded antibody (Gene MAb), Sorrento said.
The company said it will “seek further funding in support of the COVID Gene MAb program toward EUA (emergency use authorization) approval and large-scale manufacturing pending successful clinical studies.”
Sorrento recently traded at $8.05, up 16.67%, and has soared 128% year to date amid investor enthusiasm over coronavirus drugs.
“For this Gene MAb approach, the SmartPharm/Sorrento team will produce plasmid DNA encoding the SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody STI-2020 (COVI-AMG),” the company said.
“The FDA is currently reviewing IND filings for STI-2020 as an IV-delivered neutralizing antibody and STI-2099 as an intranasal-delivered neutralizing antibody for the treatment of Covid-19. The expected higher potency of the STI-2020 antibody makes it an ideal candidate for Gene MAb delivery against Covid-19.”
Further, “the DARPA/JPEO contract supports the accelerated development of a Gene MAbs neutralizing antibody that can be delivered by a simple intramuscular injection, enabling the recipient to produce the protective antibody, potentially within days of the injection,” Sorrento said.
“Such an approach would permit the rapid translation of fully characterized potent neutralizing antibodies into clinical use, which Sorrento believes will be important for responding to potential mutations of SARS-CoV-2 that may emerge. It would also enable broader deployment of the Gene MAb approach as a prophylactic solution.”