Mateon has announced they recently discovered in its directed antiviral screening program that an anti-malarial drug called Artemisinin is highly potent at inhibiting the ability of the COVID-19 causing virus (SARS-CoV-2) to multiply while at the same time keeping an excellent safety index – claiming its safety is clearly superior to other drugs getting more attention in the media such as Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine and Remdesidivir. However, it still needs to go through months of well-controlled and sufficiently powered clinical trials before coming to market.
Dr. Vuong Trieu, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mateon stated:
“The discovery of Artemisinin through our fruitful collaboration with Golden Mountain Partners could be the solution for COVID-19 pandemic. This discovery is particularly important since we have the potential to advance the program rapidly because it is based on technology and product that are readily available. Like other potential COVID-19 therapeutic agents such as Hydrochloroquine and Remesidivir, the efficacy of Artemisinin remained to be tested in well-controlled and sufficiently powered clinical trials but Artemisinin has many advantages against COVID-19.”
Mateon, created by the recent merger with Oncotelic (a developer of TGF-beta RNA therapeutics) and PoinTR (cluster computer vision empowered blockchain company), plans to seek additional support to evaluate clinical proof of concept studies to show the potential of Artemisinin to treat SARS-CoV-2 virus infection and COVID-19 complications. The addition of Artemisinin provides the company with a number of candidates to address the SARS-CoV-2 virus with a combination of therapies including its leading drug candidate OT-101 and its antisense platform targeting the COVID-19 viral sequence.
Like other potential COVID-19 therapeutic agents such as Hydrochloroquine and Remesidivir, the efficacy of Artemisinin remains to be tested in well-controlled and sufficiently powered clinical trials.
However, given the known safety profile and the widespread use of Artemisinin the company anticipates that clinical development of Artemisinin can be abridged to effectively deal with the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The availability of Artemisinin as a pre-existing dietary supplement may allow it to be deployed immediately in developing countries where the healthcare system can easily be overwhelmed. The company intends to work with partners who have distribution networks in developing countries to provide a clean supply to avert a humanitarian crisis.
The newly reported results indicated that Artemisinin had an EC50 = 0.45 ug/ml and Safety Index = 140.
Artemisinin is a natural derivative from the Asian herb Artemisia Annua, employed in Chinese traditional medicine to treat fever. Artemisinin was discovered in 1972 by Tu Youyou, who was co-recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery. Test from 2011 Pubmed paper indicates that the drug inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are what causing ‘Cytokine Storms‘ and devestating victims in the pandemic.
On March 31, 2020, The US Food and Drug Administration issued authorization for experimental coronavirus treatments using chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, anti-malaria drugs touted by President Donald Trump despite inconclusive clinical proof of their efficacy. The US Department of Health and Human Services followed up with opening up hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine products to be distributed and prescribed by doctors through the Strategic National Stockpile “to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible.”