Destiny Pharma receives grant for Covid-19 treatment, shares soar

Clinical biotechnology firm Destiny Pharma plc (AIM:DEST) has seen its shares soar by more than 14% after the company announced it has received an £800,000 grant from the country’s leading innovation agency Innovate UK to help develop a novel, preventative treatment for COVID-19.

The programme will see Destiny Pharma work alongside London-based biotechnology research company SporeGen® Limited to co-develop its SPOR-COVTM product into a potential treatment as part of the global effort to find effective treatment and a vaccine for the pervasive coronavirus infection.

Both Destiny Pharmacy and SporeGen® have announced that they will share “any costs and commercial returns” from SPOR-COV, with the aim to enter the first human clinical trials “within 18 months”.

What is SPOR-COV?

SPOR‑COV, already produced by SporeGen®, is a proprietary formulation of Bacillus bacteria that can be administered nasally as a spray to infected patients.

Although the product is still in development, SPOR-COV has already been shown to provide 100% protection in pre-clinical models of influenza-type viruses.

It is unique to current vaccines on the market in that it utilises the “innate immune system” in order to develop COVID-19 protection just a few days after the initial dose.

SporeGen® has described SPOR-COV as an “easy to use first line of defence” with “the potential to reduce COVID-19 infection rates and transmission significantly”.

It is hoped that the final product will be “straightforward to produce at high volumes and at low cost”, with the added bonus that it can be stockpiled for an almost indefinite length of time as it does not require refrigeration.

In addition, SPOR-COV could be made available globally as “a cost-effective measure in the fight against COVID-19 as well as new COVID strains and other respiratory viral infections”.

Details of the £800,000 grant

Destiny Pharma and SporeGen® have received an £800,000 grant from Innovate UK to help fund the SPOR-COV programme, which will make up the vast majority of the initial £1 million cost of production.

The “preclinical efficacy work” will be undertaken in collaboration with esteemed Professor Aras Kadioglu (University of Liverpool, Professor of Bacterial Pathogenesis in the Department of Clinical Infection, Microbiology & Immunology), who is currently head of Liverpool’s Bacterial Pathogenesis and Immunity group and is a “leading expert in respiratory infection models and host immunity to infection”.

The “manufacturing and formulation development work” will be carried out by HURO – an “experienced manufacturer of bacterial product formulations based in Vietnam” – best known for their chewable probiotics dummies, and a subsidiary of food-processing firm PAN Group.

The programme aims to complete the necessary pre-clinical safety studies over the next 18 months before moving onto human trials.

Destiny Pharma and SporeGen® react

Both firms have welcomed the grant, expressing their gratitude towards Innovate UK as well as their hopes that SPOR-COV can be developed into an effective treatment for COVID-19.

Professor Simon Cutting, Chief Executive of SporeGen®, stated:

“The SPOR-COV platform has already been shown to be effective against pandemic flu by targeting the innate immune system. As such, SPOR-COV potentially has value as a universal system for combatting other viral diseases such as COVID-19. If successful, we foresee a novel approach against COVID-19 and for future, similar pandemics. […] Prima facie our approach is simple and offers a potential new approach in the fight against one of the most serious diseases to afflict mankind”.

Neil Clark, Chief Executive Officer of Destiny Pharma, said:

“We are excited to announce the collaboration with SporeGen to co-develop their SPOR-COV product to prevent COVID-19 infections and the concurrent award of significant grant funding from Innovate UK. […] The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has highlighted powerfully the need for innovation in developing new treatments to prevent and manage both viral and bacterial infections and Destiny Pharma remains committed to developing cost-effective products that meet this medical need”.

Investor insight

Destiny Pharma’s share price has soared 14.08% to 55.90p at BST 13:01 07/09/20, hitting its highest point all year and clambering from its annual low of 29.00p at the end of July.

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Junior Journalist at the UK Investor Magazine. Focuses primarily on finance and business content. Has personal interests in Middle Eastern politics, human rights issues, and sustainability initiatives.