Pfizer Inc. and Clear Creek Bio, Inc. have announced a research collaboration and exclusive license agreement to advance the discovery and development of potential inhibitors of the SARS-CoV-2 papain-like protease (PLpro) for the oral treatment of COVID-19. PLpro is an essential enzyme, which, along with the main protease (Mpro), plays an important role in viral replication. This program will expand Pfizer’s innovative anti-infective pipeline and, if successful, will complement Pfizer’s existing portfolio of COVID-19 products with direct-acting antiviral agents against different SARS-CoV-2 targets.
“COVID-19 has proven to be a devastating and highly unpredictable disease, one with the potential to remain a global health concern for years to come,” said Charlotte Allerton, Chief Scientific Officer, Anti-Infectives and Head of Medicine Design, of Pfizer. “It is critical that we try to stay ahead of the virus, continuing to advance clinical development opportunities for our current oral therapy as well as innovating through our internal programs and strategic partnerships to bring forward additional monotherapy and/or combination treatment candidates that we believe may play a role in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.”
“As COVID-19 continues to evolve, there is a significant need for oral antivirals with novel mechanisms of action,” said Vikram Sheel Kumar, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Clear Creek Bio. “We explored the druggable SARS-CoV-2 genome and identified PLpro as a promising and untapped target. Leveraging our team’s expertise and success in bringing novel drugs from idea to approval, we internally developed highly potent PLpro inhibitors. We look forward to working with Pfizer, a global leader in antiviral development, to advance a new class of oral antivirals for COVID-19.”
Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will work together to identify a PLpro candidate to progress into the clinic, at which time Pfizer will be solely responsible for further development and commercialization activities. Clear Creek Bio will receive an undisclosed upfront payment and will be eligible to receive additional potential milestone payments plus royalties on future product sales.