A team of scientists say they have identified the genes that can protect human cells against Covid-19. The scientists from the New York Genome Center, New York University and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai used CRISPR, a technology that allows them to alter DNA sequences, to make their discoveries.
The discovery comes after an eight-month screen of all 20,000 genes in the human genome led by Dr. Neville Sanjana at the New York Genome Center. Leading virologist at Mount Sinai, Dr. Benjamin tenOever, developed a series of human lung cell models for the coronavirus screening to better understand immune responses to the disease and co-authored the study.
Their study, published online last month by Cell, will appear in the scientific peer-reviewed journal’s Jan. 7 print issue.
The goal was two-fold: to identify the genes that make human cells more resistant to SARS-CoV-2 virus; and test existing drugs on the market that may help stop the spread of the disease.
The breakthrough comes at a time when drug makers such as Pfizer, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna (NQ:MRNA) are fast-forwarding vaccine and therapeutics to treat Covid-19. On Friday, Pfizer (NY:PFE) and BioNTech (NQ:BNTX) requested emergency authorization from the FDA for their Covid vaccine that contains genetic material called messenger RNA, which scientists expect provokes the immune system to fight the virus.
According to a press release from NYU and the New York Genome Center, the team employed a broad range of scientific techniques to analyze genetic dependencies between viruses and their human hosts.
After intensive research, the scientists and doctors claim they have found 30 genes that block the virus from infecting human cells including RAB7A, a gene that seems to regulate the ACE-2 receptor that the virus binds to and uses to enter the cell. The spike protein’s first contact with a human cell is through ACE-2 receptor.
“Our findings confirmed what scientists believe to be true about ACE-2 receptor’s role in infection; it holds the key to unlocking the virus,” said tenOever. “It also revealed the virus needs a toolbox of components to infect human cells. Everything must be in alignment for the virus to enter human cells.”
The research team also identified drugs that are currently on the market for different diseases that they claim block the entry of Covid-19 into human cells by increasing cellular cholesterol. In particular, they found three drugs currently on the market were more than 100-fold more effective in stopping viral entry in human lung cells:
- Amlodipine, brand name Norvasc, by Pfizer, to treat high blood pressure and angina.
- Tamoxifen, brand name Soltamox by Fortovia Therapeutics, an estrogen modulator, to treat breast cancer.
- Ilomastat, brand name Galardin, it’s a matrix metalloprotease inhibitor, that now being manufactured by many companies; a chemotherapy agent, with applications for skincare and anti-aging products.
Avalon GloboCare (NQ: AVCO) is fighting the global pandemic with a proprietary and novel technology called “S Layer” in developing a vaccine and blood filtration system. According to Forbes business the global demand for vaccines is expected to grow to 93 billion by 2026, and a small up and comer Avalon GloboCare (NASDAQ:AVCO) is in the process of developing an intranasal vaccine that can serve as a compliment to what is currently on the market. Avalon uses a proprietary S-Layer “surface layer” technology to develop an intranasal vaccine that attaches to the mucosal membrane CEO Dr. David Jin pointed out. “We see our vaccine candidate as a complement to any injectable vaccines in clinical trials, because it could provide first-line immune protection at the virus’s entrance site”. Adding a coat of an S-layer onto solid surfaces can greatly improve the function of a therapeutic, vaccine, or device. The S-layer allows enhanced efficiency and interaction of targeted proteins and molecules for better function.
Avalon GloboCare is in the process of establishing a state-of-the-art research facility, the Christian Doppler Laboratory, located on the BOKU campus in Vienna, Austria, under the scientific leadership of Professor Eva-Kathrin Ehmoser, the Head of BOKU’s Institute for Synthetic Bioarchitectures and Professor Uwe Sleytr, a member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. In connection with the new facility, Avalon and BOKU have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly apply for a matching research grant from the prestigious Christian Doppler Laboratory Foundation. Avalon also has research being done in MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), the UNRLS (University of Natural Resources and life sciences in Australia), Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City and the Lu Daopei Medical Group in China, which has the country’s top ranked hematology and bone marrow transplant program
In the December 2020 issue of Nature’s Biopharma Dealmakers, Avalon’s President and CEO, David Jin, M.D., Ph.D., highlighted Avalon’s ongoing scientific and clinical developments including a first-in-human trial of a mucosal, intranasal vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 that is planned for early 2021. Dr. Jin also described the company’s innovative, allogeneic mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) therapy candidate, CB-MSC-1, which possess unique anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory activities, as well as AVA-001, Avalon’s third-generation CAR T cell therapy that has shown robust activity in patients with relapsed, refractory B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in a Phase 1 trial (Avalon feature in Biopharma Dealmakers).
“We are excited and motivated to join forces with the researchers at BOKU to drive innovation. We have already begun a collaboration on the mucosal SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and are moving quickly to establish additional joint research endeavors to bring about innovative technologies and new medicines to patients,” said Dr. Jin.
Avalon GloboCare, is a young, $100 million market cap company that has arguably some of the brightest minds in cell-based technology who have a competitive advantage with their “S-Layer” technology in a vaccine market that is expanding rapidly. This small cap biotechnology company is working towards the goal of changing the way we fight the devastating effects of diseases that relentlessly attack our immune systems by using our own bodies against us. In the first quarter of 2020, Avalon GloboCare successfully completed a phase 1 first-in-human clinical study of AVA-001 in China for the treatment of relapsed refractory B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (R/R B-ALL). 90% of R/R B-ALL patients achieved complete remission with one dose and within one month of treatment, and then proceeded to a curative-intent allogeneic bone marrow transplant. With more upcoming catalysts in Q4 2020 and early 2021, it is safe to say that there is a large potential upside in AVCO’s stock that currently trades at only $1.50 The company has been well capitalized to date and has very clean cap table relative to its industry peers making it an attractive investment. The question investors are asking themselves is “ how long will Avalon be trading in the one dollar range before it breaks out ?”
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