RUSNANO Portfolio Company Mitotech Develops New Method to Prevent Severe COVID-19

15 April 2020

Mitotech (RUSNANO portfolio company) science team that developed the SkQ1 compound, temporarily redirected all their resources to create a new mitochondrial antioxidant drug aimed at preventing the development of severe forms of the COVID-19 disease. It is expected that the injection drug with the working name Mitotech-19 will allow patients with apparent respiratory failure requiring oxygen therapy to prevent the further development of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and reduce the need for lung ventilation.

Mitotech (RUSNANO portfolio company) science team that developed the SkQ1 compound, temporarily redirected all their resources to create a new mitochondrial antioxidant drug aimed at preventing the development of severe forms of the COVID-19 disease.

Mitotech (RUSNANO portfolio company) science team that developed the SkQ1 compound, temporarily redirected all their resources to create a new mitochondrial antioxidant drug aimed at preventing the development of severe forms of the COVID-19 disease.

The Mitotech team, headed by the Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Skulachev, suggested using an original approach to combat complications of COVID-19. To date, the 2 main focus areas of designing new drugs for this disease are creating a vaccine and designing antiviral drugs that suppress the reproduction of the virus. At the same time, the most severe and dangerous complication of COVID-19 is the development of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). It is this condition that requires artificial lung ventilation (ALV) and often leads to death in patients.

At the beginning of 2020, there was a lot of scientific evidence that in case of severe course of COVID-19, the key mechanism, and perhaps the main reason for the development of ARDS, is the systemic inflammatory response of the patient’s body to the massive viral infection (sepsis). In this regard, the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is similar to influenza and SARS viruses.

Several scientific papers over the recent years have shown that the mitochondrial antioxidant SkQ1 developed by the Mitotech team is capable of protecting animal organisms (and human cells within in vitro experiments) under conditions of systemic inflammatory response, i.e. sepsis. Amidst the global coronavirus pandemic, Mitotech proposed to create a SkQ1-based drug in the shortest possible time, which under conditions of excessive activation of the inflammatory system would prevent the development of COVID-19 to its most severe form.

Maxim Skulachev, CEO of Mitotech, one of the developers of Mitotech-19: “At the moment, we have redirected all our available resources for the early completion of preclinical tests and production of pilot batches of Mitotech-19 to start clinical tests. It is very helpful that SkQ1 is already used as an active ingredient in drugs registered in Russia or drugs undergoing late stages of clinical tests in the United States. Therefore, with the success of the remaining development stages, we can reach the clinical tests of the drug within a few months. We may be ready for this even before the end of the current outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic.”

Aleksandr Lukashev, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Director at the Institute for Medical Parasitology, Tropical and Transmissible Diseases named after E.I. Martsinovsky: “We know from previous scientific papers that the mitochondrial antioxidant SkQ1 efficiently protects endothelial cells of blood vessels from the consequences of cytokine storm: the most harmful element of systemic inflammation. Based on these data, we may hope that the use of SkQ1 will reduce damage to the walls of blood vessels and their permeability under septic shock, and thus prevent the formation of pulmonary edema and other severe complications. This should lead to a reduction in acute respiratory failure and the duration of lung ventilation, and subsequently a reduction in the risk of lung fibrosis and chronic respiratory failure (dyspnoea) as a consequence of the infection. If this hypothesis is confirmed in clinical tests this drug will become the most important tool in the treatment of not only COVID-19, but also other kinds of severe viral pneumonia.”

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RUSNANO Joint-Stock Company was founded in March 2011 through reorganization of state corporation Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies. JSC RUSNANO contributes to implementation of the state policy on the development of the nanotechnology industry by investing directly and through investment funds of nanotechnology in financially effective high-technology projects providing the development of new production facilities in the Russian Federation. Its primary investment focus is in electronics, optoelectronics and telecommunications, healthcare and biotechnology, metallurgy and metalwork, energy, mechanical engineering and instrument making, construction and industrial materials, chemicals and petrochemicals. 100 percent of RUSNANO’s shares are state owned. Thanks to RUSNANO’s investments, there are currently 115 factories and R&D Centers opened in 37 regions in Russia.

Management of assets of RUSNANO JSC is carried out by Limited Liability Company established in December 2013, RUSNANO Management Company. Anatoly Chubais is the Chairman of its Executive Board.

Work to establish nanotechnology infrastructure and carry out educational programs is fulfilled by RUSNANO’s Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs, which was also established during the reorganization of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies.

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Mitotech S.A. is a Luxembourg-based biotechnology company developing novel drugs for treatment of predominantly age-related disorders. The core technology behind Mitotech products is based on a novel class of small molecules – mitochondria targeting cardiolipin peroxidation inhibitors. Company’s lead compound SkQ1 is being developed in several drug formulations covering a variety of therapeutic areas with major focus on ophthalmology and neurodegenerative diseases.

100% Mitotech S.A. owned by Russian Mitotech LLC, a portfolio company of RUSNANO.