Watertown Biotech Company Seeks to Create Coronavirus Treatment

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The following announcement was sent out by Watertown-based Enanta Pharmaceuticals:

Enanta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ENTA), a clinical-stage biotechnology company dedicated to creating small molecule drugs for viral infections and liver diseases, today announced that it has initiated a program to discover direct-acting antiviral drug candidates for the treatment of patients infected with the novel coronavirus COVID-19, also known as SARS-CoV-2.

The company is leveraging its years of expertise in virology, including its discovery work on two approved protease inhibitors – paritaprevir and glecaprevir – for use against hepatitis C virus (HCV), its development of a candidate for hepatitis B virus (HBV), and most importantly, its development of candidates for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human metapneumovirus (hMPV), to explore approaches against this pandemic health threat.

Enanta is taking a two-pronged approach to its COVID-19 discovery efforts. It is testing compounds from its antiviral compound library for potential activity against COVID-19. It is also initiating a drug discovery program using its expertise in direct-acting antiviral mechanisms to discover new candidates to treat COVID-19.

“Based on our proven track record in virology and our capabilities in respiratory diseases, we believe our core competencies position us well to discover a potential treatment for COVID-19,” said Jay Luly, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Enanta. “Our decision to initiate a program for COVID-19 is a natural evolution of our work and mission. Not only has Enanta already worked on the discovery of two direct-acting antivirals for HCV, we have an HBV treatment in clinical development, as well as expertise in RSV, a common illness in children that is also responsible for an estimated 177,000 older adult hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths annually in the U.S. More recently, we also started a program for hMPV, which like RSV, can cause severe respiratory tract infections in children, elderly and immunocompromised individuals.”

Enanta’s decision to initiate a program for COVID-19 comes only a few months after the company initiated “RSVP,” a Phase 2b study in adult outpatients with community-acquired RSV. The company also plans to initiate a Phase 2 dose ranging study in pediatric RSV patients and a Phase 2 study in adult transplant patients with RSV. Similar to the emerging patient profile of COVID-19, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for RSV, which is an illness that also affects children and for which there are no safe and effective treatments.

About Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus (SARS-CoV-2) that had not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

About Enanta

Enanta is using its robust, chemistry-driven approach and drug discovery capabilities to become a leader in the discovery and development of small molecule drugs for the treatment of viral infections and liver diseases. Enanta’s research and development efforts have produced clinical candidates for the following disease targets: respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)/primary biliary cholangitis (PBC), hepatitis B virus (HBV), human metapneumovirus (hMPV) and emerging coronaviruses.

Enanta’s research and development activities are funded by royalties from hepatitis C virus (HCV) products developed under its collaboration with AbbVie. Glecaprevir, a protease inhibitor discovered by Enanta and now marketed by AbbVie as part of its leading treatment for chronic HCV infection, is sold under the brand names MAVYRET® (U.S.) and MAVIRET® (ex-U.S.) (glecaprevir/pibrentasvir). Please visit www.enanta.com for more information.

Forward Looking Statements Disclaimer

This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements with respect to Enanta’s new research program for 2019-nCoV. Statements that are not historical facts are based on management’s current expectations, estimates, forecasts and projections about Enanta’s business and the industry in which it operates and management’s beliefs and assumptions. The statements contained in this release are not guarantees of future performance and involve certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions, which are difficult to predict. Therefore, actual outcomes and results may differ materially from what is expressed in such forward-looking statements. Important factors and risks that may affect actual results include: the development risks of early stage discovery efforts for a disease that is still little understood; the impact of development efforts and regulatory developments with respect to competitive treatments for coronavirus; intense competition from other companies developing potential therapeutics and vaccines for 2019-nCoV; Enanta’s need to attract and retain senior management and key scientific personnel; and other risk factors described or referred to in “Risk Factors” in Enanta’s most recent Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2019 and any other periodic reports filed more recently with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Enanta cautions investors not to place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements contained in this release. These statements speak only as of the date of this release, and Enanta undertakes no obligation to update or revise these statements, except as may be required by law.

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