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MediciNova Shares Rise 40% on Plans to Initiate COVID-19 ARDS Clinical Trial

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Shares of MediciNova traded higher after the company reported that it plans to initiate a clinical study of MN-166 (ibudilast) for COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Biopharmaceutical company MediciNova Inc. (MNOV:NASDAQ) yesterday announced that "it will initiate a clinical trial of MN-166 (ibudilast) for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) caused by COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019)."

MediciNova reported that "the study will be conducted by Yale's Advanced Therapies Group, which is co-directed by Richard Bucala, M.D., Ph.D., chief of rheumatology, allergy & immunology at Yale School of Medicine and rheumatologist-in-chief at Yale New Haven Health."

Dr. Bucala commented, "We are very excited to partner with MediciNova to pursue this novel approach for the treatment of lethal inflammation in COVID-19 patients...We believe MN-166 has the potential to reduce the mortality of COVID-19 by limiting the hyperinflammation and ARDS associated with severe cases."

The firm additionally identified Dr. Geoffrey Chupp, professor of medicine (pulmonology), director of the Yale Center for Asthma and Airway Disease and director of the Pulmonary Function Laboratory at Yale-New Haven Hospital, as the lead principal investigator for the trial.

"We are very pleased to have the opportunity to study MN-166 in COVID-19-induced ARDS patients and look forward to initiating treatment. We currently have approximately 200 COVID-19 patients at Yale with 34 on ventilators. We are hopeful that MN-166 will help patients with the most severe cases of COVID-19." Dr. Chupp remarked.

The company's President and CEO Yuichi Iwaki, M.D. Ph.D., added, "We are very pleased to announce initiation of a clinical trial of MN-166 in ARDS caused by COVID-19. This study also will allow investigators to determine the optimal dose and route of administration in these very critical patients."

The firm mentioned that there are no effective therapies beyond supportive care for ARDS, which is caused by excessive inflammation, and that ARDS is frequently a lethal lung condition. The company explained that in normal circumstances the lungs exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide in small airway sacs called alveoli, however, "in ARDS, there is extensive inflammation and tissue injury in the alveoli of the lungs, and loss of the surfactant, a substance necessary for keeping alveoli open. These changes prevent the lungs from filling properly with air and providing the body with enough oxygen, causing life-threatening difficulty breathing."

The company described MN-166 (ibudilast) as "a first-in-class, orally bioavailable, small molecule macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) inhibitor and phosphodiesterase (PDE) -4 and -10 inhibitor that suppresses pro-inflammatory cytokines and promotes neurotrophic factors and that its earlier human studies demonstrated significant reductions of serum MIF level after treatment with MN-166 (ibudilast)."

MediciNova is biopharma company based in La Jolla, Calif., that was established for the purpose of developing novel, small-molecule therapeutics for the treatment of diseases with unmet medical needs. The company stated that its efforts are now concentrated primarily on MN-166 (ibudilast) for neurological disorders and MN-001 (tipelukast) for fibrotic diseases including nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

MediciNova started the day with a market capitalization of around $193.8 million with approximately 43.96 million shares outstanding and a short interest of about 6.7%. MNOV shares opened 23% higher today at $5.44 (+$1.03, +23.36%) over yesterday's $4.41 closing price. The stock has traded today between $5.11 and 6.84 per share and closed the day at $6.09 (+$1.68, +43.10%).


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