Federal government signs agreement for COVID-19 drug

The federal government has signed a reservation agreement with the Swiss company Molecular Partners for a therapeutic agent against the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). If the drug successfully passes clinical trials and is approved for the market, Switzerland will receive priority access. The clinical trials are planned for autumn 2020.

With this agreement, the federal government has secured priority access to the first 200,000 doses of the COVID-19 drug as well as a right to be supplied with up to 3 million further doses.

The drug from Molecular Partners is an immunotherapeutic agent. In terms of its approach, the treatment is comparable to mixtures of antibody therapies that are used to neutralise the virus, in one drug. If the product is approved in Switzerland, it will primarily be used to treat people infected with the new coronavirus. The drug could, in certain cases, also be administered on a prophylactic basis to protect against infection (passive immunisation), for example for exposed hospital staff or other risk groups. The clinical trials are planned for autumn 2020.

DARPin Technology originates from University of Zurich

Molecular partners is a biotech firm based in Schlieren in the canton of Zurich.
It was founded in 2004 as a spin-off of the University of Zurich and is developing its own class of drugs called DARPins therapies. These are designed proteins that can recognise and bind antigens. Mono-DARPin modules that neutralize the virus are formatted into mutli-DARPin candidates that block viral penetration of human cells at highest potency and with the potential to prevent viral escape. The DARPin proteins are smaller and more stable than conventional antibodies and can be produced cost effective in bacterial cells.

Diversified approach

The federal government is preparing for various scenarios in the battle against COVID-19. Having recently signed an initial agreement for potential vaccine doses for the Swiss population, it is important to now also focus on therapeutic approaches in order to treat severely ill COVID-19 patients.

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