New Finnish COVID-19 drug approved


Turku-based drug innovation company Therapeutica Borealis Oy has been granted a patent from The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for its patent application for a COVID-19 drug. Earlier this month, the company told it had received approval for a patent application, based on which, a final grant was expected during May. It was granted on May 18, 2021, under the patent number 11,007,187.

“Final patent is an important milestone for us on our way to the market. Our next goal is to find an established pharmaceutical industry company with an international business scale,” says Professor Kalervo Väänänen, one of the three inventors and founders of Therapeutica Borealis.

The other inventors of the drug and founders of Therapeutica Borealis are Adjunct Professor Lauri Kangas and Psychologist Matti Rihko. The invention is to use a nasal spray with three effects on cellular mechanisms in nasal mucosa to prevent and weaken the ability of the virus to enter the body and replicate itself. That way it is possible to prevent contracting the disease and decrease the risk of falling ill seriously.

“Tackling the pandemic probably requires, in addition to a vaccine, a preventive or early-acting drug. This drug also helps especially in a situation where vaccine coverage threatens to remain too low for herd immunity,” says Kalervo Väänänen.

The active substances to be used in the novel drug (aprotinin, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin) are well-known and commonly used drugs, but in this invention, they are used in a new and targeted manner on the mucous membrane of the upper respiratory tract. Targeted use enables lower dosage of the active substances, making the treatment safer and more effective.

The scientific basis of the patented invention is to prevent virus replication on the mucous membrane of the upper respiratory tract in three different ways. Protease inhibitors prevent the attachment of the virus to the cell surface and its access to the cells on the mucous membrane of the nose. The neutralisation of intracellular acidic environments can prevent both viral escape from endosomes and viral protein modification in the Golgi apparatus of the cell. As the novel drug is designed to have effect on three different cellular mechanisms it is likely to be effective against various mutations of SARS-CoV-2 as well as other enveloped viruses infecting humans via nasal mucosa.

All drug molecules within the scope of the patent have been approved for the treatment of other conditions, but when used systemically, i.e. as pills swallowed by the patient or as infusions, the drug quantities are high and may cause adverse effects. In local use, for example as a nasal spray, the concentration of the active substances is very low in the whole body but nevertheless locally sufficient to prevent the progress and replication of the virus, making the drug safer and more efficient.

Kalervo Väänänen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Therapeutica Borealis Oy: “The work on finding medical solutions to curb the COVID-19 pandemic requires, alongside vaccine development, medication that can be used both preventatively and in the treatment of infected patients. Our invention has potential in combating new variants of SARS-CoV-2 as well as other viruses. This patent demonstrates drug innovation company Therapeutica Borealis Oy’s ability to solve difficult problems based on strong and diverse scientific expertise. Completing development of the drug within a quick schedule is possible, because the molecules being used are known in terms of safety, and the development can be directed at phase II tests on efficacy and efficiency in relation to different doses and dosing mechanisms.”

Turku is Finland’s strongest know-how cluster in life sciences and a pioneer of business operations. “More than two-thirds of Finland’ pharmaceutical exports come from Turku region companies. More than 1,000 researchers in over one hundred research groups form the backbone of the innovation ecosystem Health Turku. Therapeutica Borealis Oy is an important addition to the global innovations created in Turku Science Park”, states Niko Kyynäräinen, Director of Business and Economic Development at City of Turku.

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