Small Molecule Antiviral
Viral pathogens, like SARS-CoV-2 and many enveloped viruses, use proteases to infect and replicate in cells. Both viral and host proteases are targets for developing therapeutic countermeasures. For SARS-CoV-2, some drugs target viral proteases like Nirmatrelvir/Paxlovid. Healion Bio has been developing antiviral drugs that inhibit host proteases known as cathepsins. Human cathepsins are essential for many viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Cathepsin inhibitors are well studied for several chronic diseases. Most of the clinical stage cathepsin inhibitors are orally bioavailable and have large safety margin. The broad inhibitory nature of some cathepsin inhibitors allow them to block many redundant cathepsin pathways a virus may use.
Healion Bio has identified a combination of essential cathepsins for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Through methodical research, Healion Bio found a clinically advanced cathepsin inhibitor (HB-121) which stops viral infection. Furthermore, Healion Bio has focused on the subset of cathepsin inhibitors that do not inhibit critical enzymes required by the body’s own adaptive immune response such as Cathepsin S.
Clinically advanced repurposed drugs have known side-effects and have been optimized for their pharmacology. Because of the orthogonal mechanism of action, these cathepsin inhibitors have an advantage of synergizing activity of other antivirals. Combination antiviral approach makes it far harder for a virus to mutate around two distinct mechanisms.
Healion Bio’s lead compound is an advanced, abandoned, repurposed asset with strong activity against SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses. It blocks the right combination of cathepsins in cells.
Combination Small Molecule Oral Antivirals
Healion Bio is researching combination therapies using cathepsin inhibitors and other broad acting antivirals. Our mission is to develop a safe, orally available, broad acting drug that will be used as both therapeutic and immediate post-exposure prophylaxis across multiple viral classes, especially those viruses that cause pandemic such as coronaviruses, influenza viruses, and filoviruses.
Advanced Biologics Platform
Healion Bio is researching the next generation of novel biological antivirals. These are engineered proteins that bind specifically to viruses and neutralize them. The same platform has application in oncology.