Santa Fe biotechnology company developing COVID-19 treatment | KOB 4

Santa Fe biotechnology company developing COVID-19 treatment

Joy Wang
Created: October 14, 2020 10:13 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A team of scientists in Santa Fe are working on an anti-viral therapeutic to treat COVID-19.

Since March, Spartina Biotechnologies have been developing to potential COVID-19 treatment, which would be administered through a shot.

"Enters into cells that are already infected with the virus. And then the therapeutic is inside of the infected cells,” said Dr. Richard Sayre, chief science officer for Spartina. “It sort of packs a one, two punch. It prevents the virus from replicating and spreading throughout the body, but it also simultaneously activates what's called the innate immune system."

Dr. Sayre said that innate immune system is the key. 

"The innate immune response is very different than the type of immune response that's activated by a vaccine,” he explained. “It's much faster than a vaccine. Vaccines take weeks to develop sometimes, but the innate immune response is activated within minutes of a virus infection, and what's been shown is that kids that have a very active innate immune system have better disease outcomes. And in fact, adults that have a fast activated innate immune system also have milder disease symptoms."

The company has designed and tested the treatment in computer simulations.

"Now we'll go to the lab and produce, physically, and then go to clinical trials hopefully early spring,” said Paul Laur, CEO of Spartina.

The goal is to have the treatment available by the end of next year. 

"The technology itself has been around for about 20 years [and] won the Nobel Prize in 2006,” Laur said.

The technology was originally discovered by plant scientists and now Spartina is working to apply it to medical research.

"One of the advantages of our system is the FDA has already approved the organisms that we work with, and the molecules that we work with,” Dr. Sayre said.

"With ours, you'll be able to be very specific with the dosing and then that patient profile, which is deemed effective safe,” said Kear Sauber, president of Spartina.

Spartina said they’ve been informing the state on their research process.

"If all works well, and then we don't run into major hiccups, that we could have demonstrate proof of technology in three months, Dr. Sayre said. 

In other words, if Spartina proves the therapeutic molecules work, the next step will be clinical trials.

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