As the world of pharma and biotech companies works towards finding a solution for COVID-19, we see a number of different research-oriented companies emerging. Many of these companies specialize in areas that are not related to antiviral drugs, but still have excellent, potential therapies that could well become essential in the fight to cure the coronavirus that has swept the globe over the past few months. One such Company in the oncological research space that is testing a potential usage for the COVID-19, is Nascent Biotech (OTCQB:NBIO).
What Does Nascent Biotech Do?
Nascent Biotech is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on cancer research, particularly with respect to cancers that affect the brain. The Company develops human antibodies and cytokine responses for the treatment of various forms of cancer and the antibodies have strong antiviral applications as well. While brain cancers were always the core focus of Nascent Biotech’s research, its monoclonal antibodies are intended to treat malignancies, such as glioblastoma and malignant astrocytoma, lung and breast cancer metastases to the brain, pancreatic cancer, and as importantly, viruses like COVID-19. The Company is headquartered in San Diego, California.
Nascent Biotech’s Research Approach
An antibody is defined as a large, Y-shaped protein that is used by the immune system of the human body in order to recognize the unique molecules of pathogens, whether it is cancer, bacterial, or viral, and to neutralize these pathogens. These antibodies are essentially produced naturally by the human immune system and they form the base of Nascent Biotech’s research. The Company is using and developing human antibodies and cytokine responses obtained from innate natural human immune responses as a drug discovery platform for identifying new antibodies and antigens for commercialization. The Company’s technology portfolio is based upon the natural human immune system, uniquely utilizing the immune system’s innate capabilities and selectivity to produce biomolecules for a more effective disease treatment. Nascent Biotech’s researchers believe that the natural immune response enables the rapid development of new classes of safe, non-toxic and specific biological drugs for use in the clinic. The potential indications for this kind of technology and research are not only in the field of oncology but also for various infectious pathogens like SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Strong Track Record in Cancer Research
Nascent Biotech has an excellent track record in cancer research. The Company has already received FDA clearance to begin Phase 1 of human trials for brain cancer and has an approved IRB to begin these trials. Pritumumab has received the Orphan Drug Designation for both brain cancer as well as pancreatic cancers. In addition to brain cancers, the Company’s research has a strong application in various forms of cancer therapies for lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer. The Company’s product is already licensed for the Chinese market for a duration of 20 years with 9% royalty upon commercial approval.
PTB Antibody – Cancer Applications
Pritumumab is the Company’s lead therapeutic asset and the result of many years of successful research. PTB is essentially a natural human antibody that was derived from a B-cell isolated from a tumor draining lymph node of a patient with cervical cancer. It has been previously tested on 249 human brain cancer patients in Japan. The results indicated that there was a tumor response even at very low doses. PTB’s key preclinical development and toxicology studies for the U.S. are complete and the Company received partial FDA clearance in December 2018 to begin Phase 1 human trials in the U.S. for brain cancer. The product has a large addressable market and Nascent has already manufactured it on a commercial scale.
Can PTB Become the Game Changer in The Current COVID-19 Crisis?
PTB’s application is not restricted to cancer alone and it may have the ability to counter coronaviruses like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and COVID-19, which is currently the cause of a global pandemic. The target protein, cell-surface vimentin, to which PTB binds. PTB is being studied to confirm that it will block the ability of the virus to recognize, and therefore infect, its target cells. This could make it possible for PTB to be of excellent use in the fight against various viral infections and opens a new direction for Nascent Biotech in the development of novel antiviral drugs for the treatment of coronaviruses like COVID-19. It is worth highlighting the criticality of surface vimentin for the cell entry of coronaviruses as described by Yu et. al., in the Journal of Biomedical Science in 2016, long before the COVID-19 became a worldwide concern. Their research details how Vimentin interacts directly with the SARS coronavirus during its binding process to the non-infected cell and that anti-vimentin antibodies (like the PTB in our context) diminished the uptake of the SARS Coronavirus in pre-treated animals. This implies the huge potential of PTB in the current COVID-19 scenario.
While Nascent Biotech is a research-focused, zero-revenue microcap, the inherent risk associated with it is significantly lower than other biotech microcaps. The Company’s annual cash burn is close to $1 million which is nominal. Also, PTB has a proven manufacturing process and demonstrated safety in toxicology studies. The Company’s base of intellectual property is strong, and it is poised to grow, with the work on the COVID-19 therapy progressing rapidly. With the FDA moving promising Covid-19 therapies through the regulatory process, it is just a matter of time before Nascent may have a drug candidate for human trials.