Studies: eNAMPT, an inflammation-regulatory protein is now tightly linked to COVID-19 deaths

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Medical team wearing protective suits, eyewear, masks, and gloves checking on mid adult female patient lying in bed wearing surgical mask over breathing device.

Several recent publications have now highlighted the damaging role of proteins called extracellular nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (eNAMPT) in COVID-19 infections. In a comprehensive report published in the high impact journal CELL, of over 5,000 proteins identified as perturbed in COVID-19 patients who did not survive their illness compared to controls, NAMPT expression was linked to life-threatening multi-organ injuries via participation in multiple inflammatory signaling pathways.

These findings are in synchrony with another recent publication in the journal TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH which highlighted the devastating role of eNAMPT as a damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) and a master regulator of systemic inflammation, including patients with COVID-19 infection. Additional recent publications support the scientific thesis that eNAMPT is found in vital organs of patients who have succumbed to COVID-19-induced ARDS, especially those with comorbidities such as diabetes, obesity, and cancer.

These findings may lead to better treatments. Tucson-based Aqualung Therapeutics, an early-stage biotech company developing the anti-inflammatory Next Gen platform, is hoping their drugs may be key in reducing these proteins in patients affected by SARS-CoV-2 infections.

“Aqualung has been laser-focused on pursuing treatments for the unremitting inflammation associated with ARDS and ventilator-induced lung injury and have successfully identified eNAMPT as a highly-druggable target in ARDS, as it is a master regulator of highly harmful inflammatory protein pathways. We are fortunate to have made tremendous progress in developing a therapeutic drug to neutralize eNAMPT and dampen lung and systemic inflammation. The recent flurry of publications in CELL and Translational Research among others, provide the enhanced rationale for targeting eNAMPT, especially for patients with severe COVID-19 induced ARDS,” states Joe GN Garcia MD, CEO and founder of Aqualung Therapeutics.

The company has published compelling human and preclinical studies highlighting eNAMPT as a viable inflammatory target, and whose neutralization dramatically attenuates harmful inflammatory responses in ARDS/ventilator-induced lung injury as well as other unmet inflammatory conditions.

Aqualung continues to advance their lead therapeutic ALT-100 mAb with ongoing pharmacodynamic, pharmacokinetic and toxicology studies, along with initiation of manufacturing of ALT-100 mAb.

Founded in 2016 and led by a physician scientist, Aqualung’s mission is to provide inflammation-reducing therapeutic strategies that address the serious unmet medical needs of patients suffering from lung and systemic inflammatory conditions such as ARDS, ventilator- and radiation-induced lung injury, chorioamnionitis, prostate cancer, pulmonary hypertension, and both pulmonary and hepatic fibrosis (NASH).