VANCOUVER, Washington--(BUSINESS WIRE)--CytoDyn Inc. (OTCQB: CYDY) ("CytoDyn" or the "Company"), a late-stage biotechnology company developing leronlimab, a CCR5 antagonist with the potential for multiple therapeutic indications, announced today that Brazil’s regulatory authority ANVISA (Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária) has approved the previously submitted clinical trial protocol to commence patient enrollment in its CD17 trial for severe COVID-19 patients. The Academic Research Organization (ARO) Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital (AEIH) in Brazil will conduct the trial.
The COVID-19 trial in Brazil is intended to provide ANVISA with the requisite data to consider advancing the availability of leronlimab to Brazilians infected with COVID-19. This Phase 3 trial will be conducted in up to 35 clinical sites with 612 patients who are hospitalized and in need of oxygenation support. The trial aims to prevent the disease from evolving into a more severe case, requiring invasive mechanical ventilation. Additionally, ANVISA is reviewing another protocol submitted for a second clinical trial for 316 critically ill COVID-19 patients.
The Phase 3 trial for severe COVID-19 patients has built in an interim analysis to be conducted after 40% (245) of the patients have been enrolled and the last-enrolled patient has completed 28 days of treatment with leronlimab.
Chris Recknor, M.D., CytoDyn’s Chief Operating Officer and Head of Clinical Development, commented, “As of July 2021 Brazil had the highest number of confirmed cases from COVID-19 in Latin America and ranked third highest in the world. The CD17 trial was designed in collaboration with our partners at Einstein ARO and BIOMM to have an adequately powered interim analysis after 40% of the patients have been enrolled and completed 28 days of treatment with leronlimab. Given that average weekly cases currently are over 35,000, we anticipate that the results of the interim analysis may be available in the next three to four months using the endpoints we refined from CD12.”
Nader Pourhassan, Ph.D., CytoDyn’s President and Chief Executive Officer, concluded, “We are very grateful to ANVISA and for the hard work of all involved including ARO, BIOMM, and CytoDyn. It has been a challenging road, but we are pleased to be in the position to potentially have results from two COVID-19 trials in Brazil and potentially one COVID-19 long hauler trial in the US. We truly believe our CD12 data has been crucial for us in designing these new trials in Brazil to give leronlimab the best chance at success.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted CytoDyn Fast Track designation to explore two potential indications using leronlimab to treat Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and metastatic cancer. The first indication is combination therapy with HAART for HIV-infected patients, and the second is for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (mTNBC). Leronlimab is an investigational humanized IgG4 mAb that binds to CCR5, a cellular receptor important in HIV infection, tumor metastases, and other diseases, including nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Leronlimab has been studied in 16 clinical trials involving more than 1,200 people and met its primary endpoint in a pivotal Phase 3 trial (leronlimab combined with HIV standard care in patients with multi-drug resistance to current available classes of HIV drugs).
Leronlimab, among various potential applications, is a viral-entry inhibitor in HIV/AIDS. It binds to CCR5, thus protecting healthy T cells from viral infection by blocking the predominant HIV (R5) subtype from entering those cells. Leronlimab does not work on other strains of HIV (for example X4), however, R5 is the most dominant strain of HIV. The leronlimab antibody appears to be a powerful antiviral agent with fewer side effects and less frequent dosing requirements than currently used daily drug therapies. Cancer research has shown CCR5 may play a role in tumor invasion, metastases, and tumor microenvironment control (for example, through angiogenesis). Published studies have shown that blocking CCR5 can reduce tumor metastases in laboratory and animal models of aggressive breast and prostate cancer. Leronlimab reduced human breast cancer metastasis by more than 97% in a murine xenograft model. As a result, CytoDyn is conducting two clinical trials, one, a Phase 2 in mTNBC, which was granted Fast Track designation by the FDA in 2019, and a second, a Phase 2 basket trial, which encompasses 22 different solid tumor cancers.
The CCR5 receptor plays a central role in modulating immune cell trafficking to sites of inflammation. After completing two clinical trials with COVID-19 patients (a Phase 2 and a Phase 3), CytoDyn initiated a Phase 2 investigative trial for post-acute sequelae of SARS COV-2 (PASC), also known as COVID-19 Long-Haulers. This trial focused on the effect of leronlimab on clinical symptoms and laboratory biomarkers to further understand the pathophysiology of PASC. It is currently estimated that between 10-30% of those infected with COVID-19 develop long-term sequelae. Common symptoms include fatigue, cognitive impairment, sleep disorders, and shortness of breath. If this trial is successful, CytoDyn plans to pursue clinical trials to evaluate leronlimab’s effect on immunological dysregulation in other post-viral syndromes, including myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).
CytoDyn is also conducting a Phase 2 clinical trial for NASH to evaluate the effect of leronlimab on liver steatosis and fibrosis. Preclinical studies revealed a significant reduction in NAFLD and a reduction in liver fibrosis using leronlimab. There are currently no FDA approved treatments for NASH, which is a leading cause of liver transplant. About 30 to 40 percent of adults in the U.S. live with NAFLD, and 3 to 12 percent of adults in the U.S. live with NASH. There have been no strong safety signals identified in patients administered leronlimab in multiple disease spectrums, including patients with HIV, COVID-19, and oncology.
CytoDyn is a late-stage biotechnology company developing innovative treatments for multiple therapeutic indications using leronlimab, a novel humanized monoclonal antibody targeting the CCR5 receptor. CCR5 plays a critical role in the ability of HIV to enter and infect healthy T-cells and appears to be implicated in tumor metastasis and immune-mediated illnesses, such as NASH.
CytoDyn successfully completed a Phase 3 pivotal trial using leronlimab combined with standard antiretroviral therapies in HIV-infected patients who were heavily treatment-experienced individuals with limited treatment options. CytoDyn has been working diligently to resubmit its Biologics License Application ("BLA") for this HIV combination therapy since receiving a Refusal to File letter from the FDA in July. The Company commenced its resubmission of the BLA in July 2021, which is expected to be completed in October 2021. CytoDyn also completed a Phase 2b/3 investigative trial with leronlimab used as a once-weekly monotherapy for HIV-infected patients. CytoDyn plans to initiate a registration-directed study of leronlimab monotherapy indication. If successful, it could support a label extension approval. Clinical results to date from two trials have shown that leronlimab can keep the viral load suppressed in a sub-population of R5 HIV patients who chose to switch from their daily pills regimen to once a week subcutaneous dose of leronlimab. Several patients on leronlimab’s Phase 2b extension arm have remained virally suppressed for almost 7 years and many patients in our Phase 2b/3 investigative trial have continued for more than three years of monotherapy with suppressed viral load.
CytoDyn is also conducting a Phase 2 clinical trial with leronlimab in mTNBC, a Phase 2 basket trial in solid tumor cancers (22 different cancer indications), Phase 2 investigative trial for post-acute sequelae of SARS COV-2, also known as COVID-19 long haulers, and a Phase 2 clinical trial for NASH. CytoDyn has already completed small Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials for mild-to-moderate and severe-to-critical COVID-19 patients, respectively, for which CytoDyn did not meet its primary or secondary endpoints except for the secondary endpoint in the critically ill subpopulation. More information is at www.cytodyn.com.
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions that are difficult to predict. Words and expressions reflecting optimism, satisfaction or disappointment with current prospects, as well as words such as "believes," "hopes," "intends," "estimates," "expects," "projects," "plans," "anticipates" and variations thereof, or the use of future tense, identify forward-looking statements, but their absence does not mean that a statement is not forward-looking. Forward-looking statements specifically may include statements about leronlimab, its ability to provide positive health outcomes, the possible results of clinical trials, studies or other programs or ability to continue those programs, the ability to obtain regulatory approval for commercial sales, and the market for actual commercial sales. The Company's forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance, and actual results could vary materially from those contained in or expressed by such statements due to risks and uncertainties including: (i) the regulatory determination of leronlimab’s efficacy to treat HIV patients with multiple resistance to current standard of care and COVID-19 patients, among other indications, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and various drug regulatory agencies in other countries, (ii) the Company's ability to raise additional capital to fund its operations, (iii) the Company's ability to meet its debt obligations, if any, (iv) the Company's ability to enter into partnership or licensing arrangements with third parties, (v) the Company's ability to identify patients to enroll in its clinical trials in a timely fashion, (vi) the Company's ability to achieve approval of a marketable product, (vii) the design, implementation and conduct of the Company's clinical trials, (viii) the results of the Company's clinical trials, including the possibility of unfavorable clinical trial results, (ix) the market for, and marketability of, any product that is approved, (x) the existence or development of vaccines, drugs, or other treatments that are viewed by medical professionals or patients as superior to the Company's products, (xi) regulatory initiatives, compliance with governmental regulations and the regulatory approval process, (xii) legal proceedings, investigations or inquiries affecting the Company or its products; (xiii) general economic and business conditions, (xiv) changes in foreign, political, and social conditions, and (xv) various other matters, many of which are beyond the Company's control. The Company urges investors to consider specifically the various risk factors identified in its most recent Form 10-K filed on July 30, 2021, and any risk factors or cautionary statements included in any subsequent Form 10-Q or Form 8-K, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Except as required by law, the Company does not undertake any responsibility to update any forward-looking statements to take into account events or circumstances that occur after the date of this press release.