The Second Wave: Biopharma Players Race to Develop Therapeutics for COVID-19 (BioSPace) December 21.

Revive Therapeutics (RVTTF), RedHill BioPharma (RDHL), AI Pharma (Private), Apilli Thera (APLIF) and ExeVir Bio (Private).

The life science industry hasn’t hung up its lab coat and safety goggles just yet. As governments speed up vaccine booster plans in light of the Omicron variant, biopharmaceutical companies across the world are fighting an increasingly important battle against COVID-19: the struggle to treat the disease.

Revive Therapeutics Adapts to Variants 

A life science research and development company based in Toronto, Revive Therapeutics specializes in addressing rare disorders and infectious diseases. While the company has previously invested in treatments for rare inflammatory and auto-immune diseases, including cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals and novel psilocybin-based formulas, Revive is also exploring the potential of lead asset Bucillamine as a treatment for infectious diseases like influenza and COVID-19.

“We are one of a few life sciences companies evaluating an investigational drug in a Phase III clinical trial for COVID-19 and with the rising prevalence of cases throughout the U.S., we are confident that our targets will be achieved to support the potential FDA approval and commercialization of Bucillamine for the treatment of the virus,” said Revive Chief Executive Officer Michael Frank in an October 2020 press release.

Coincidentally, the most recent update on the progress of the company’s Phase III clinical trial for Bucillamine in COVID-19 was announced on the anniversary of that same press release, but a lot has changed since then. Chief among them is the ever-growing list of COVID-19 variants, including Omicron and Delta, and the trial has already been adapted better to investigate Buccilamine’s potential applicability to novel strains.

Buccilamine has been used as an antirheumatic in Japan for decades under brand names such as Bucilant, Lemalc and Rimatil. However, due to its additional antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, Revive recruited it for a Phase II-A Study on gout in 2015. And now, COVID-19 has necessitated a resurgence of evaluating old drugs for new tricks.

“Bucillamine could be an active therapy that can work alone or in conjunction with some of the other antivirals. Its strength is that it is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant drug, and it could play a key role in terms of not only COVID but several other types of inflammatory or infectious diseases including lung disorders and cystic fibrosis to name a few,” Frank told BioSpace. “Our drug is a pill and as you know, the demand for therapeutics that are pill-based is growing exponentially. Pill-based drugs can be deployed quickly for people that have been diagnosed with COVID.”

While this trial is ongoing, Revive has already filed for the FDA’s specialty Orphan Drug status for Bucillamine’s use in preventing ischemia and reperfusion injuries during liver transplant procedures.

In the meantime, a recent study from UCSF offers more support in favor of the efficacy of thiol drugs like Bucillamine against COVID-19, making this drug a promising potential treatment to keep an eye on in the coming months.