Grant supports discovery of RNA-targeting Henipavirus therapeutics

RNA strand

Evotec has received a $1.7 million grant from Open Philanthropy, a philanthropic funder prioritising global health and wellbeing.

Under the grant, Evotec aims to discover and develop RNA-targeting small molecules as potential first-in-class therapeutics against Henipaviruses.

Henipavirus is a genus of zoonotic viruses that can cause fatal encephalitis in humans. The genus comprises six different established species including Hendra virus and Nipah virus, from which it receives its name. The World Health Organization lists henipaviral agents as R&D Blueprint Priority Pathogens, indicating their pandemic potential.

Currently there are no approved drugs or vaccines for neither Hendra nor Nipah virus infections available, underlining an urgent need for accelerated research and development.

Under the grant, Evotec will leverage its RNA-targeting small molecules platform to identify promising RNA sequences to target with small molecule ligands that can be developed into potentially first-in-class therapeutics.

To prepare against future pandemics, Evotec has initiated the global networking initiative PRROTECT (pandemic Preparedness and Rapid RespOnse TEChnology plaTform). PRROTECT is designed to accelerate R&D timelines for neutralising antibodies and create a flexible manufacturing network to deliver such therapeutics in the event of a future pandemic.

Dr Werner Lanthaler, Chief Executive Officer of Evotec, commented: “The grant will enable us to pursue an innovative RNA-targeting approach to address the pandemic challenges posed by Henipaviruses. Through PRROTECT, we strive to make a meaningful contribution to achieve targets set under the UN Sustainable Development Goal (“SDG”) No 3 and make new, safe and effective treatment options available for these pandemic threats.”

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