Edesa stock soars after Toronto biotech shares data showing COVID-19 antibody saves lives

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Shares of Toronto drug developer Edessa Biotech Inc. rose on Monday after it was shown that some of the sickest COVID-19 hospital patients who took its experimental drug had significantly improved chances of survival.

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Adessa’s share price rose as much as 97 percent on the NASDAQ on Monday, clinical-stage biotechnology company said after COVID-19 patients receiving single-dose antibody treatment in an efficacy trial died. One over four occurred at a lower rate of 68.5 percent. -week duration compared to those who did not.

According to the Independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board, which analyzed the results, two of the 14 people who carried its antibody, called EB05, died, while seven of the 19 tested who did not take the antibody died. All 33 patients were on life-saving machines that oxygenated their blood.

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The share price more than doubled on the NASDAQ, closing up 103 percent at US$11.92.

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Share volume on that day exceeded 154 million, which is more than 11 times the total number of outstanding shares.

Adessa said the study was primarily designed to lead to a more detailed study, with the board concluding that the results from a subset of patients revealed “a clinically significant efficacy indication”. and served its purpose. So far, Adessa has enrolled more than 550 patients for the extended study.

“It’s huge,” Nizhavan, the chief executive officer of Adessa, said in an interview. “Once you end up in an intensive-care unit with COVID-19, your chances of getting serious lung injury and even dying increases dramatically. If we can prevent those deaths, save the number of days in the ICU, then it doesn’t matter what types we have. “

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Peter van der Velden, a company director and managing general partner with Adessa investor Lumira Ventures, said, “This looks like unprecedented data for the company that continues to support our thesis that this could lead to a transformative therapy for patients. This puts the company in a good position for the next clinical trial.”

Brian Bloom, CEO of Toronto Life Sciences Investment Bank Bloom Burton, said the initial published data “looks very attractive in the selected 33 patients. … If confirmed, this result could be an important drug in the fight against COVID-19.” may” in a large study.

Dr Nijhavan said Adessa will talk to regulatory bodies to see if it can get an early approval to sell the drug under the provisions of emergency use. “My suspicion is that we will still need to do more work to get to that level,” he said.

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That’s good news for Canada’s thriving biotechnology sector, which has received a record inflow of venture capital and produced a string of initial public offerings. Last month, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. said it would buy cancer drug developer Trillium Therapeutics Inc., the most valuable Canadian biotechnology company on the Toronto Stock Exchange, for US$2.26 billion.

Canada’s most valuable biotech company, NASDAQ-listed AbCellera Biologics Inc. is also in the antibody business; It has booked hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from its COVID-19 antibodies developed with Eli Lilly & Co.

Adessa was founded by Mayo Clinic-trained gastroenterologist Dr. Nizhavan in 2015, the same year he sold his specialty pharmaceutical company, Medical Futures Inc., for $25 million. Dr Nijhavan set out to create Edessa as an immunology business, initially focusing on the treatment of chronic contact dermatitis, skin rash caused by an allergic reaction, and hemorrhoids.

Edessa entered the COVID-19 treatment business last year. A Swiss company that licensed two antibodies to Adessa to develop immunotherapeutic treatments told Dr Nizhavan that one of them had shown promise as a potential treatment for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which causes lung damage. Fluid leaks out, making breathing difficult and often leading to death. It is a condition that affects 3 million people a year globally, and that number could rise as much as 50 percent as a result of the pandemic.

The 16-person team at Edessa found that EB05 can slow the condition that leads to fluid buildup in acute COVD-19 patients, and focused its development resources on the licensed molecule. Edessa also received a $14 million contribution this year from the federal government’s Strategic Innovation Fund.

“It’s an exciting moment,” said Dr Nijhawan. “It’s a technology that’s easily accessible and scalable and it’s a solution made in Canada. Now we have a drug that could potentially save thousands, if not millions, of lives globally.” .

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