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Moleculin Shares Jump on Progress With Virus-Drug Candidate

Moleculin Biotech says independent testing confirms the antiviral activity of its coronavirus treatment candidate.
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Moleculin Biotech  (MBRX) - Get Moleculin Biotech, Inc. Report shares on Tuesday jumped after the drugmaker said a second round of independent lab testing confirmed antiviral activity of its drug candidate, WP1122, as a treatment for coronavirus.

Shares of the Houston company at last check were 31% higher at $1.44. 

The lab involved was IIT Research Institute, an affiliate of the Illinois Institute of Technology, which conducted additional in vitro testing of WP1122, Moleculin said in a statement.

Importantly, the company said, the growth medium, which is designed to support the growth of cells or microorganisms, in this assay was chosen to reflect the levels of glucose normally found in humans rather than the artificially high levels of glucose often used to speed up in vitro testing. 

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Based on feedback from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Moleculin said it believes it may need to demonstrate activity in a covid-19 animal model to successfully submit a request for Investigational New Drug status for WP1122. 

"Having validation in yet another virus host cell line provides additional confidence in the antiviral activity we are seeing," Walter Klemp, chairman and CEO of Moleculin, said in a statement. "Also, using a different independent lab from the last testing that was done provides further validation."

Klemp added that "we are also gaining confidence that in vitro testing results for this class of compounds are significantly affected by the concentration of natural glucose in the microenvironment present during viral replication and continued infection."

"We are also testing other compounds in the portfolio against SARS-CoV-2 and other life-threatening viruses," Klemp said.

 "We believe WP1122 is promising, but we also don't want to overlook additional opportunities to potentially provide new and better solutions to other viral diseases."