Dr. Nathan Yoganathan
Chief Scientific Officer, JN Nova Pharma Inc.
Dr. John Gillard
CEO, Chief Product Development Officer, JN Nova Pharma Inc.
Director of Business Development & Marketing, Biodextris
JN Nova and Biodextris have teamed up to produce a new COVID-19 therapeutic solution.
JN Nova Pharma Inc. is a biotechnology company headed up by Dr. John Gillard and Dr. Nathan Yoganathan. The firm partnered with the National Research Council Canada (NRC) Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre, the original discoverers of the novel molecule, and various academic collaborators who joined to start the commercialization process of the novel COVID-19 therapeutic drug platform, JN2019.
JN2019 has been found to be a potent coronavirus-neutralizing agent that’s potentially active against all current and emergent viral variants, including the new Omicron strain. JN2019 can trap the virus and block its entry into the lungs and other vulnerable organs by acting as an angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) decoy. ACE2 is a membrane-bound protein present in many organ tissues that serves as the entry point for the COVID-19 virus. This particular enzyme (AEC2) is widely implicated in a number of internal processes, so once compromised (by the virus), it interferes with immune and hypertension modulation in the cell.
Treatment and prevention combined
JN2019 is an exciting discovery as it’s able to replace ACE2 activity. This is important as COVID-19 infections cause ACE2 function to be impaired or lost, leading to severe disease, particularly for vulnerable patients with diabetes or kidney, heart, or lung disease. “JN2019 could be the world’s first COVID-19 therapeutic and prophylactic that could address current COVID -19 variants as well as any future variants, systemically replacing lost ACE2 enzyme activity to protect the kidneys and lungs,” says Dr. Yoganathan, Chief Scientific Officer of JN Nova. The possible implications of regaining ACE2 activity as a post-infection therapeutic are substantial. “We’re also evaluating the potential of this molecule in a different form to support people who have slow recovery from COVID-19,” says Dr. Gillard, JN Nova’s CEO and Chief Product Development Officer.
R&D to clinical trials
With a lot of front-end research by the aforementioned consortia and R&D funding from the NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), a pilot batch and biomanufacturing processes were established in the NRC laboratories. Biodextris then joined to develop a robust manufacturing process oriented to future commercial production. Biodextris, a spin-off of the former Laval, QC-based GSK vaccine division, has much experience in process and analytical development as well as early-stage clinical batch manufacturing. Their work touches a wide range of areas like cancer, inflammatory disorders, infectious diseases, cardiovascular and many more.
In choosing its contract development and manufacturing organization partner, the JN Nova team considered many factors, including expertise, facilities, and capacity. “Biodextris has been an outstanding partner and we’re looking forward to seeing our product enter the clinical manufacturing process in the coming year,” says Dr. Yoganathan.
Biodextris has managed many COVID-19-related projects this year, from therapeutics to vaccines. “These have been unprecedented times, where both the private sector and governments have joined together to produce life-saving solutions in an expedited manner,” says John Mukherjee, Director of Business Development and Marketing at Biodextris. “We’ve been doing as many of these projects as possible to support Canadian innovation and solutions to ultimately build an infrastructure for the future.”