Kleo Pharmaceuticals in New Haven, Connecticut, has announced a $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of its efforts to advance the development of a therapeutic for COVID-19 patients.
The grant will enable the company to advance its COVID-19 Hyperimmune Globulin Mimic (HGM) project, which leverages Kleo's proprietary MATE (Monoclonal Antibody Therapy Enhancers) technology platform to combat the SARS-CoV-2 virus. MATE uses site-directed chemical conjugation with off-the-shelf therapeutic antibodies to add to or enhance their effictiveness. Kleo has developed a series of binders targeting the virus's spike protein, conjugating with a commercially available intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) plasma product to create an HGM therapeutic that could provide a synthetic, homogenous, and readily available replacement for convalescent serum, which has shown promise as a treatment for COVID-19.
According to the company, HGM can address COVID-19 viral infection by multiple mechanisms: direct neutralization, viral clearance through innate immune system response, and longer-term vaccination-like effects. Unlike traditional monoclonal therapeutic antibodies, which are based on a single immunoglobulin (IgG) subclass, Kleo's HGM product consists of IgG1/2/4 antibodies, conferring a unique multimodal effect.
"We are thrilled to receive grant funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate development of our COVID-19 HGM program and potentially help address this urgent global need," said the company's CEO, Doug Manion. "From Kleo's initial work in HIV and my twenty-plus years of experience in developing successful anti-viral medicines, the COVID-19 program represents an important component and natural evolution of the Kleo story. This non-dilutive funding allows us to rapidly advance clinical candidate identification efforts with the goal of entering the clinic in early 2021."