Sorrento Therapeutics Announces Entry Into Option Agreement to Exclusively License MPRO Inhibitors Against SARS-CoV-2 and Variants of Concern, Including Delta, From Texas A&M University

  • MPro is a SARS-CoV-2 enzyme that catalyzes the formation of a number of essential proteins for the viral reproduction.
  • MPro inhibitors block this catalytic process to potentially inhibit the viral replication in human cell hosts and prevent viral infection.
  • The lead compound, MPI8, exhibited potent in vitro antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 and all of the major Variants of Concern (VoCs) (alpha, beta, delta and gamma) tested.
  • Sorrento intends to develop the lead MPro inhibitor in oral administration form and as a component of an antiviral cocktail therapy to potentially eliminate current and emerging coronavirus infections.

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 24, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: SRNE, "Sorrento") today announced that it has entered into an option agreement (“Option”) with The Texas A&M University System (“TAMUS”) for exclusive rights to the intellectual property covering highly potent main protease (MPro) inhibitors against SARS-CoV-2. This latest agreement bolsters Sorrento’s wide-ranging portfolio of preclinical and clinical therapeutic candidates targeting COVID-19, including new and emerging variants of concern of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Under the terms of the agreement, Sorrento has an exclusive option to exclusively license patents covering the MPro inhibitor drug candidates.

Discovered and developed by Dr. Wenshe Ray Liu and his research team at Texas A&M University, the MPro inhibitors have demonstrated strong cellular antiviral potency against SARS-CoV-2 in preclinical studies. Several MPro inhibitors were identified that exhibited antiviral effects against diverse SARS-CoV-2 variants, including Indian (Delta), UK (Alpha), Brazilian (Beta) and South Africa (Gamma) variants of concern. The potential advantage of using small molecules, in oral and/or intravenous administration, that target MPro is that they are not affected by mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which may enable MPro drugs to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants of concern (VOCs), as well as against other coronaviruses that currently exist or might emerge in the future.

“MPro is a SARS-CoV-2 enzyme that catalyzes the formation of a number of essential proteins for the viral reproduction. MPro inhibitors block this catalytic process to inhibit the viral replication in human cell hosts achieving the eradication of the virus,” according to Dr. Liu.

“We are excited to be collaborating with Dr. Liu and his team at Texas A&M and look forward to advancing the development of these novel drug candidates to address COVID-19, and a multitude of other respiratory viruses,” stated Dr. Henry Ji, Chairman and CEO of Sorrento. “This agreement further strengthens our dynamic COVID-19 product portfolio and is well aligned with our overall strategic plan to combat COVID-19 through a combination of potent small molecules and antibodies, cellular therapies and vaccines.”

Sorrento may exercise its right to enter into a worldwide exclusive license agreement at any time during the option period.

About Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc.

Sorrento is a clinical stage, antibody-centric, biopharmaceutical company developing new therapies to treat cancers and COVID-19. Sorrento's multimodal, multipronged approach to fighting cancer is made possible by its extensive immuno-oncology platforms, including key assets such as fully human antibodies (“G-MAB™ library”), clinical stage immuno-cellular therapies (“CAR-T”, “DAR-T™”), antibody-drug conjugates (“ADCs”), and clinical stage oncolytic virus (“Seprehvir™”). Sorrento is also developing potential antiviral therapies and vaccines against coronaviruses, including COVIGUARD™, COVI-AMG™, COVISHIELD™, Gene-MAb™, COVI-MSC™ and COVIDROPS™; and diagnostic test solutions, including COVITRACK™, COVISTIX™ and COVITRACE™.

Sorrento's commitment to life-enhancing therapies for patients is also demonstrated by our effort to advance a first-in-class (TRPV1 agonist) non-opioid pain management small molecule, resiniferatoxin (“RTX”), and SP-102 (10 mg, dexamethasone sodium phosphate viscous gel) (SEMDEXA™), a novel, viscous gel formulation of a widely used corticosteroid for epidural injections to treat lumbosacral radicular pain, or sciatica, and to commercialize ZTlido® (lidocaine topical system) 1.8% for the treatment of post-herpetic neuralgia. RTX has completed a Phase IB trial for intractable pain associated with cancer and a Phase 1B trial in osteoarthritis patients. SEMDEXA is in a pivotal Phase 3 trial for the treatment of lumbosacral radicular pain, or sciatica. ZTlido® was approved by the FDA on February 28, 2018.

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Forward-Looking Statements

This press release and any statements made for and during any presentation or meeting contain forward-looking statements related to Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc., under the safe harbor provisions of Section 21E of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Forward-looking statements include statements regarding Sorrento’s pipeline and plans with respect to its preclinical and clinical COVID-19 programs, including the MPro inhibitors to which Sorrento has certain exclusive license option rights; the antiviral properties of these MPro inhibitors, including MPI8, and the potential advantage the MPro inhibitors offer against SARS-CoV-2, its variants of concern and other coronaviruses; Sorrento’s plans to develop the MPro inhibitors to address COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses; and Sorrento’s strategic plan to address COVID-19 with a combination of treatments and therapies, including small molecules and antibodies, cellular therapies and vaccines. Risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially and adversely from those expressed in our forward-looking statements, include, but are not limited to: risks related to Sorrento's technologies and prospects, including, but not limited to risks related to seeking regulatory approval for MPro inhibitors against SARS-CoV-2, its variants of concern and other respiratory viruses; clinical development risks, including risks in the progress, timing, cost, and results of clinical trials and product development programs; risk of difficulties or delays in obtaining regulatory approvals; risks that clinical study results may not meet any or all endpoints of a clinical study and that any data generated from such studies may not support a regulatory submission or approval; risks that prior test, study and trial results may not be replicated in future studies and trials; risks of manufacturing and supplying drug product; risks related to leveraging the expertise of its employees, subsidiaries, affiliates and partners to assist Sorrento in the execution of its therapeutic antibody product candidate strategies; risks related to the global impact of COVID-19; and other risks that are described in Sorrento's most recent periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including Sorrento's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020, and subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the risk factors set forth in those filings. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this release and we undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement in this press release except as required by law.

Media and Investor Relations Contact
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G-MAB™, DAR-T™, SOFUSA™, COVIGUARD™, COVI-AMG™, COVISHIELD™, Gene-MAb™, COVIDROPS™, COVI-MSC™, COVITRACK™, COVITRACE™ and COVISTIX™ are trademarks of Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc.

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