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UNION Therapeutics: niclosamide against COVID-19

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Founded in 2011, UNION Therapeutics is a Danish bio-pharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel medicines in the fields of both inflammatory and infectious diseases.

“In the course of our research, we discovered that niclosamide has very interesting properties in that it reduces the ability of overactive cells to produce energy. We saw, for example, how it could also be used for both anti-inflammatory and anti-viral purposes, and we were keen to explore this more,” explains Dr Rasmus Toft-Kehler, co-founder of UNION.

In 2017, UNION benefited from an important investment through the EIF’s Business Angels programme. “The investment allowed us to initiate clinical trials,” explains Rasmus. “But it’s more than just that. Business Angel investors are very close to the start-ups they support, as a mentor and a great team player too. We’ve developed a long-standing relationship of trust at this point. We are now in phase 2, running a study with atopic dermatitis patients across Europe.”

But things changed in 2020, when studies identified niclosamide as the most potent FDA-approved inhibitor of SARS-Cov-2 - the virus causing COVID-19. From that point, UNION shifted its focus, launching a programme to test the salt form of niclosamide as a treatment for COVID-19 in collaboration with Institut Pasteur Korea.

As Rasmus explains, “Our phase 2 study in atopic dermatitis had slowed down because of COVID-19, with people not coming into the clinic due to lock-down, so we diverted our efforts and focussed on COVID-19 itself, working hard to raise capital and get the green light from the Danish medicinal authority to enter human studies.”

“What’s interesting,” he adds, “is that niclosamide works on the host cell, not the virus, so it’s difficult for the virus to develop resistance. We’re very confident with the developments. We should be ready to announce patient study initiation soon. This could be the perfect stockpiling product and can be easily scaled to cover all of Europe. Ultimately this can help to avoid lockdowns and the economic disasters we’ve seen.” Watch this space.

Company: UNION Therapeutics (Denmark)

Type of business: healthcare; pharmaceutical

EIF financing: EAF Denmark

Financial intermediary: EAF Denmark

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Denmark, please refer to:
http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/dk

 

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