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Research on COVID-19

The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center (PABC) community has numerous companies engaged in research and development associated with COVID-19. 

Additionally, scientists with the nonprofit Baruch S. Blumberg Institute, which manages the PABC, are working on several projects that show promise for preventing and treating COVID-19.

Timothy M. Block, Ph.D., president of both the institute and PABC, says Blumberg scientists are conducting research with a drug candidate they developed years ago to determine if it could be an effective treatment for COVID-19.

"We have been working on antiviral drugs for two decades at Blumberg," Block said. "Our focus has been hepatitis B, liver cancer and other cancers, but some of the drugs we have discovered appear to have activity against other viruses."

The list below represents the work at PABC associated with COVID-19.

Blumberg logo

Bixi Life Sciences LLC  The Blumberg institute, which is the "translational research engine" of the PABC, has redirected two promising approaches that are being developed with Bixi Life Sciences.

Iminovirs: Initially being developed for other viruses, these were reported to have activity against the SARS-1 virus. We received word from the NIH that our lead iminosugar is active against SARS-1. Based on how it works, it seems likely it will have activity against SARS-CoV-2. This is being tested in collaboration with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.

Peptides that block SARS-CoV-2 entry also are being investigated. A scientist who was joining the Blumberg labs to work on liver cancer peptide blockers will now, along with that work, use this technology to produce small protein SARS-CoV-2 binding drugs that act like “mini-antibodies.” This approach has worked for Ebola, and we will determine if it works for SARS-CoV-2.

Evrys logo

Evrys Bio Evrys stands for “every virus” reflecting the company’s long-term vision to develop a panel of products collectively offering coverage for use against any viral infection, currently known or newly emerging. The company’s innovative technology platform harnesses and unleashes the body’s native defense system to address multiple viral infections simultaneously while providing a high barrier to drug resistance. 

For example, Evrys is developing a pan-respiratory virus antiviral that is effective against influenza A and B, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza virus, and coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2. Infection by any of one of these viruses can cause “influenza-like illness” and lead to the more serious severe acute respiratory infection. A broad-spectrum antiviral-drug like Evrys’ pan-respiratory virus antiviral can be stock-piled, is easily scaled in manufacturing, and will have the effect of “flattening the curve” during the next respiratory virus pandemic.

FlowMetric logo

FlowMetric A leading global Contract Research Organization based out of the PABC. FlowMetric presently is working with area hospitals to develop and implement a diagnostic test to determine if people have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, and if they have developed antibodies.

Fox chase logo

Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center The center, which has laboratory operations at PABC, has developed drug candidates that work well against certain RNA viruses such as Ebola Virus, and intends to extend much of this research to target SARS-CoV-2.

Aumapharma logo

Qrumpharma (Aumapharma) Headed by Thomas Hofmann, M.D, Ph.D., the company is obtaining up to a million (and possibly more) SARS-CoV-2 test kits, for use in the United States.

Tiziana logo

Tiziana Life Sciences The publicly traded company is attempting to expedite approval of its monoclonal antibody which was initially intended as an anti-inflammatory drug. They believe this may be very useful managing the “cytokine storm” that overwhelms the lungs and ultimately causes death in some COVID-19 patients. This drug is in clinical phase, which means it is already being tested on humans.

 

For more about the Blumberg Institute's relevant research, or to support those efforts, please visit the Blumberg's COVID-19 page.

 

About the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center: The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center of Bucks County is a non-profit offering state-of-the-art laboratory and office space to research and biotech companies. It was named as one of the nation’s most successful life sciences incubators in a 2018 study by the International Business Innovation Association. Established by the Hepatitis B Foundation and managed by the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute, the Center was funded in part by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The facility opened in 2006 in an unused warehouse and has since grown to encompass 110,000 square feet on a 10-acre campus. To learn more, visit www.pabiotechbc.org.