DRDC-funded project aims to develop recombinant human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as a potential drug candidate for COVID-19
GUELPH, Ontario, Canada, August 17, 2021 — Canadian biopharmaceutical company AntoXa Corporation has been awarded a contract extension from the Government of Canada that includes development of plant-made recombinant human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as a potential coronavirus treatment.
Under the terms of the amended contract with Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), AntoXa will also continue development of plant-made butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE), a protein that protects against toxic nerve agents. DRDC exercised an option to extend the contract to March 31, 2022, increasing the total value of the projects up to $828,712.38 over three years.
“We’re very pleased to continue our collaboration with DRDC to address the critical need for cost-effective, large-scale production of tools like ACE2 to aid Canada’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ashley Meyers, AntoXa’s President and Chief Operating Officer.
Researchers are interested in ACE2 as it is the SARS-CoV-2 receptor, providing the entry point for the virus to infect cells. ACE2 could be used to target SARS-CoV-2 by blocking the spike protein from attaching to healthy cells, making it a potential candidate for prophylactic use or for use in the very early stages of COVID infection.
“Perhaps the most exciting thing about ACE2 is that it’s variant-agnostic, which means it could be effective against all of the variants of concern in the current pandemic,” Meyers said.
The DRDC funds will support work to provide the initial proof of concept to test ACE2 effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 in the lab. The researchers will express, purify and characterize two ACE2 candidates using the tobacco-plant-based vivoXPRESS® manufacturing platform developed by PlantForm Corporation, AntoXa’s parent company.
The funds will also advance AntoXa’s efforts to evaluate multiple plant-made BuChE candidates towards the development of an enhanced nerve agent medical countermeasure capability.
BuChE is a naturally occurring enzyme present in human blood plasma that acts as a bioscavenger by binding and inactivating nerve agents and protecting against nerve agent exposure. The vivoXPRESS platform offers a plant-based economical production platform for BuChE and other proteins of interest, including ACE2, that can be scaled up rapidly.
The project builds upon previous collaborations between DRDC, PlantForm and University of Alberta scientist Dr. Warren Wakarchuk as well as other BuChE work supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
“Results of this project will further validate our approach as we develop the next generation of BuChE and other protein drugs to combat bioterrorism and infectious diseases,” said Meyers.
About AntoXa Corporation (www.antoxacorp.com)
AntoXa Corporation is a Canadian biopharmaceutical company developing medical countermeasures to protect military and civilian personnel from biological and chemical agents, as well as outbreaks of naturally occurring infectious diseases.
A wholly-owned subsidiary of PlantForm Corporation, AntoXa holds an exclusive licence to the vivoXPRESS® biopharmaceutical manufacturing platform.
For more information, please contact:
Ashley J. Meyers
President and COO, AntoXa Corp.
Stacey Curry Gunn
Director of Communications, AntoXa Corp.