In a July 20 research note, Dawson James analyst Jason Kolbert reported that Sorrento Therapeutics Inc.'s (SRNE:NASDAQ) Abivertinib advanced to a Phase 2 trial for COVID-19.
Kolbert summarized the therapeutic's mechanism of action and the upcoming study.
Abivertinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) that inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as Interleukin-1beta, Interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha, he wrote. This is significant because "these cytokines are associated with cytokine release syndrome, or cytokine storm, and COVID-19 disease progression with poor outcomes in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)," Kolbert explained.
Because Abivertinib targets multiple cytokines at the same time, the hypothesis is that its effects will surpass those of other TKIs that solely inhibit Interleukin-6, which is the target in other COVID-19 trials.
Sorrento's Phase 2 study, Kolbert indicated, will be double blinded and randomized and will evaluate the efficacy and safety of Abivertinib (STI-5656) with standard of care versus standard of care in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Kolbert provided updates on the progress of Sorrento's two other COVID-19 products: a diagnostic and an antibody cocktail.
As for its fast, accurate COVI-TRACK diagnostic, the company is waiting for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to give emergency use authorization for it. Once that happens, the test should be available for nationwide distribution.
Regarding COVI-SHIELD, Sorrento's antibody cocktail against SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection, the next steps are priority evaluation and accelerated review. The company expects to have discussions with regulators soon about advancing COVI-SHIELD, which could move quickly to commercialization through United States' Project Warp Speed.
Of the small group of antibodies that Sorrento identified as blocking the interaction of the S1 protein with human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, which is the receptor through which viruses enter human cells, antibody STI-1499 was a standout. In early experiments, the biopharma found that it completely blocked the SARS-CoV-2 virus and did so at a low dose. Thus, the biopharma plans to develop STI-1499 as part of COVI-SHIELD.
Dawson James has a Buy rating and a $24 per share target price on Sorrento Therapeutics. The stock is currently trading at around $8.02 per share.[NLINSERT]
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Disclosures for Dawson James Securities, Sorrento Therapeutics, July 20, 2020
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