Zika antibody developed by Singapore company ready for human trials

Zika antibody developed by Singapore company ready for human trials

Professor Ooi Eng Eong, one of the founders of Tychan. The local biotechnology company developed the world’s first Zika antibody in a record nine months. (Photo: Tychan)

SINGAPORE: A first-in-class monoclonal antibody for Zika, called Tyzivumab, is ready for human trials after only nine months of development, announced Tychan, a Singapore clinical-stage biotechnology company. 

Tyzivumab targets the surface-exposed envelope (E) protein of the virus to stop it from fusing with host cells and prevent viral replication. It has been proven safe and effective in animals, according to Tychan in a media release on Wednesday (Feb 7).

The first patient dose will take place on Thursday, after getting the green light from Singapore's Health Sciences Authority. A total of 24 healthy volunteers will take part in Phase 1a of the clinical trial, said Tychan, adding that two more phases are likely to follow before the antibody is ready for patients’ use.

To develop the Zika antibody for human trial in what it said is record time, Tychan integrates drug development and bio-manufacturing processes to shorten the timeline to bring potential drugs from design to clinical trials in months instead of years.

This platform, founded by Professor Ram Sasisekharan of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/Singapore MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), and Professor Ooi Eng Eong of Duke-National University of Singapore (Duke-NUS), is deemed to put Singapore on the map to address and manage emerging pathogens.

“The current paradigm of taking years to bring a drug from discovery to the clinic does not allow us to effectively deal with outbreaks of emerging diseases”, said Tychan’s chairman Teo Ming Kian.

“The SARS episode is a painful reminder. To make a difference to outbreak interventions, research discovery must be translated into medicines within such timelines. The development of Tyzivumab is a first step in this direction”, Mr Teo said.

Tychan’s ability to roll out the Zika antibody for human trial in nine months was also helped by the joint collaboration with WuXi Biologics. 

Source: CNA/bk