Lumen lands another DoD contract to treat Covid-related GI issues
The team at Lumen Bioscience believes that it can help patients, including those infected with Covid-19, through its plant-based drug LMN-301. Wednesday, it announced that the US Army is a believer too, handing the company development funding for its monoclonal antibody cocktail.
This deal builds on a previous grant from the US Army that helped fund preclinical development of the candidate to treat and prevent the gastrointestinal symptoms of Covid-19, which often takes a back seat to the concerns surrounding respiratory issues. A study out of Wuhan found that GI symptoms were found in 85% of severely ill Covid-19 patients, and 79% in stable patients.
LMN-301 is two antibody-like fusion proteins, somewhat similar to the two-antibody cocktail from Regeneron. Unlike Regeneron, Lumen’s cocktail is delivered orally. Oral delivery could potentially block a possible transmission route.
Lumen landed a new headquarters out of an old Seattle bakery back in July. The move was somewhat fitting, as Lumen’s spirulina-based drugs are all plant derived. Spirulina is a nutrient-packed dietary supplement that’s popular on the West Coast, and CEO Brian Finrow and his cofounder Jim Roberts believe that it can be engineered into treatments for diseases like traveler’s diarrhea, norovirus and C. difficile colitis while cutting the cost.
“Long-duration GI symptoms are also common among those suffering from ‘long Covid,’ which we think of as a somewhat distinct set of issues,” Finrow said in a blog post he penned on Medium.com. “In short, gastrointestinal symptoms are a serious but understudied complication of Covid-19. Lumen Bio is pleased to do something, finally, about this oversight.”
This contract also fully funds a Phase II clinical trial of the candidate, and part of the funds will be used to expand Lumen’s manufacturing operations. The clinical trial will be carried out in Brazil in collaboration with the TOGETHER Trial research consortium, established with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. That will start in the late winter, so long as it is cleared by regulators, Lumen said in a press release.
“Like other researchers, we have noticed a significant prevalence of GI symptoms in the thousands of Covid-19 patient volunteers that have proceeded through the TOGETHER umbrella clinical trial to date,” study leader Edward Mills said in a press release. “These symptoms are severe in some patients, and so we are excited to have this shot at making a difference in the patients’ lives with LMN-301.”
Lumen had a $16 million Series B round of fundraising in September 2020, and started an R&D collaboration with Novo Nordisk to study obesity and other metabolic disorders. The company also has a candidate to treat Traveler’s Diarrhea in Phase II trials right now. All of its manufacturing is on site, largely because right now, there are no CDMOs that are able to manufacture its drugs.