Geneva, Switzerland and Radnor, Pa, USA, December 7, 2020 – RELIEF THERAPEUTICS Holding AG (SIX: RLF, OTCQB: RLFTF) ("Relief" or the "Company") and NeuroRx, Inc. today announced that they have met the 165 patient enrollment target agreed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the ongoing phase 2b/3 trial of RLF-100™ (aviptadil) for treating Respiratory Failure in patients with Critical COVID-19. Respiratory Failure is defined, according to the FDA, as the need for intensive care with mechanical ventilation, non-invasive ventilation, or high-flow nasal oxygen in order to sustain adequate levels of blood oxygen.
“Although enrollment has been uniquely challenged by the devastating effects of the pandemic, straining the capacity of hospitals and exposing our investigators and study coordinators to personal peril from COVID-19 in the course of their duties, we are proud to meet our enrollment target as planned,” said Prof. Jonathan Javitt, CEO and founder of NeuroRx, Inc. “Achieving this milestone in the midst of the pandemic has only been possible because of the extraordinary dedication of the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and study coordinators who continued to work around the clock to develop this much-needed therapy.”
There is currently no FDA-approved drug that has shown efficacy in patients who are already in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with Respiratory Failure. In addition to the ongoing phase 2b/3 trial, more than 200 patients with Critical COVID-19 and respiratory failure have been treated in an FDA-approved, Expanded Access Protocol (EAP) for RLF-100™. These patients were unable to enter the phase 2b/3 randomized trial due to severe comorbidities (such as organ transplant, recent heart attack, or cancer). While the companies have focused first on those patients who have no medical alternative and are at immediate risk of death, a phase 2b/3 trial with RLF-100™ for inhaled use in patients with moderate and severe COVID-19 in order to prevent progression to respiratory failure is expected to start soon.
Although the phase 2b/3 study will remain blinded until the final patients reach day 28, unexpected rapid recovery on chest X-ray has been reported by study sites and frequently reported in the open-label Expanded Access Protocol as well. In the EAP, of the 90 patients who have reached 28 days post-treatment, 72% have survived to day 28. The clinical trial will continue to enroll patients through the anticipated early Q1 2021 announcement of top line data in order to amass as large a safety database as possible.
To date, no drug-related Serious Adverse Event has been reported in any of the ongoing studies of RLF-100™, which is consistent with the absence of toxicity seen in extensive nonclinical safety testing and prior human studies.
Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide (VIP) was first discovered by the late Dr. Sami Said in 1970. Although first identified in the intestinal tract, VIP is now known to be produced throughout the body and to be primarily concentrated in the lungs. VIP has been shown in more than 100 peer-reviewed studies to have potent anti-inflammatory/anti-cytokine activity in animal models of respiratory distress, acute lung injury, and inflammation. Most importantly, 70% of the VIP in the body is bound to a rare cell in the lung, the alveolar type 2 cell, that is critical to transmission of oxygen to the body. VIP has a 20-year history of safe use in humans in multiple human trials for sarcoidosis, pulmonary fibrosis, asthma/allergy, and pulmonary hypertension.
COVID-19-related death is primarily caused by respiratory failure. Before this acute phase, however, there is evidence of early viral infection of the alveolar type 2 cells. These cells are known to have angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors at high levels, which serve as the route of entry for the SARS-CoV-2 into the cells. Coronaviruses are shown to replicate in alveolar type 2 cells but not in the more numerous type 1 cells. These same type 2 alveolar cells have high concentrations of VIP receptors on their cell surfaces giving rise to the hypothesis that VIP could specifically protect these cells from injury.
Injury to the type 2 alveolar cells is an increasingly plausible mechanism of COVID-19 disease progression (Mason 2020). These specialized cells replenish the more common type 1 cells that line the lungs. More importantly, type 2 cells manufacture surfactant that coats the lung and are essential for oxygen exchange. Other than RLF-100™, no currently proposed treatments for COVID-19 specifically target these vulnerable type 2 cells.
RLF-100™ (Aviptadil) is a formulation of Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide (VIP) that was developed based on Prof. Sami Said's original work at Stony Brook University, for which Stony Brook was awarded an FDA Orphan Drug Designation in 2001. VIP is known to be highly concentrated in the lungs, where it inhibits coronavirus replication, blocks the formation of inflammatory cytokines, prevents cell death, and upregulates the production of surfactant. FDA has now granted IND authorization for intravenous and inhaled delivery of RLF-100™ for the treatment of COVID-19 and awarded Fast Track designation. RLF-100™ is being investigated in two placebo-controlled US phase 2b/3 clinical trials in respiratory deficiency due to COVID-19. Since July 2020, more than 300 patients with Critical COVID-19 and Respiratory Failure have been treated with RLF-100™ between the two FDA-approved protocols (randomized and expanded access). Information on the RLF-100™ Expanded Access program is at https://www.neurorxpharma.com/our-services/rlf-100.
Relief focuses primarily on clinical-stage programs based on molecules of natural origin (peptides and proteins) with a history of clinical testing and use in human patients or a strong scientific rationale. Currently, Relief is concentrating its efforts on developing new treatments for respiratory disease indications. Its lead drug candidate RLF-100™ (aviptadil), synthetic vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), is being investigated, in cooperation with NeuroRx Inc., in two placebo-controlled U.S. Phase 2b/3 clinical trials in respiratory deficiency due to COVID-19. RLF-100™ is believed to be the first COVID-19 therapeutic to demonstrate the ability to block replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in human lung cells and monocytes, while also preventing synthesis of cytokines in the lung. Since July 2020, severe COVID-19 patients have been treated with RLF-100™ under U.S. FDA Emergency Use Investigational New Drug (IND) authorization and Expanded Access Protocol authorization for the treatment of respiratory failure in COVID-19. Relief also holds a patent issued in the United States and various other countries covering potential formulations of RLF-100™.
RELIEF THERAPEUTICS Holding AG is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange under the symbol RLF and quoted in the U.S. on OTCQB under the symbol RLFTF.
NeuroRx draws upon more than 100 years of collective drug development experience and is led by former senior executives of Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca, PPD. In addition to its work on RLF-100™, NeuroRx has been awarded Breakthrough Therapy Designation and a Special Protocol Agreement to develop NRX-101 in suicidal bipolar depression and is currently in Phase 3 trials. Its executive team is led by Prof. Jonathan C. Javitt, MD, MPH, who has served as a health advisor to four Presidential administrations and worked on paradigm-changing drug development projects for Merck, Allergan, Pharmacia, Pfizer, Novartis, and Mannkind, together with Robert Besthof, MIM, who served as the Global Vice President (Commercial) for Pfizer’s Neuroscience and Pain Division. Its Board of Directors and Advisors includes Hon. Sherry Glied, former Assistant Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services; Mr. Chaim Hurvitz, former President of the Teva International Group, Lt. Gen. HR McMaster, the 23rd National Security Advisor, Wayne Pines, former Associate Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Judge Abraham Sofaer, and Daniel Troy, former Chief Counsel, U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
RELIEF THERAPEUTICS Holding AG
Raghuram (Ram) Selvaraju, Ph.D., MBA
Chairman of the Board
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