Brilacidin is a first-in class defensin biomimetic, that was being developed as a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine by Innovation Pharmaceuticals for the treatment of COVID-2019 infections. Vaccines containing defensins as adjuvants activate the primary innate antiviral immune response as well as mediate other immunomodulatory activities against a number of viruses, including the coronaviruses. Brilacidin acts by bolstering the body's natural immune response and inhibiting type-4-cyclic-nucleotide-phosphodiesterase-inhibitors (PDE4/PDE3) thereby disrupting viral replication and enhancing the protective role of natural surfactants in the lung and helping resolve respiratory problems common to the coronavirusis. The company intends to develop administer the candidate as a monotherapy or as an adjuvant therapy with other antivirals. The underlying theory is that once the viral load is reduced, the body’s natural immune response possibly strengthened by brilacidin administered post-infection as an adjuvant therapy should be better able to fight off coronavirus complications. Preclinical development was underway in the US however, the development is discontinued.
As of May 2020, Innovation Pharmaceuticals announced that brilacidin as a vaccine would not be studied further . While the vaccine pathway remains of interest, the Company is prioritising brilacidin’s clinical development as a potential small molecule drug for COVID-2019 infections [See Adis Insight Drug Profile800028651].
Key Development Milestones
As of May 2020, Innovation Pharmaceuticals announced that brilacidin as a vaccine would not be studied further and the development was discontinued. While the vaccine pathway remains of interest, the Company is prioritising brilacidin’s clinical development as a potential small molecule drug for COVID-2019 infections [See Adis Insight Drug Profile800028651]  .
As of March 2020, in research studies conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, brilacidin vaccine demonstrated potent activity against various clinical isolates of gram postive and negative pathogens as well as enveloped viruses like coronavirus. The drug inhibited PDE4/PDE3 in preclinical tests. It also inhibited higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines commonly exhibited by patients affected with COVID-2019 infections   .
In March 2020, Innovation Pharmaceuticals submitted preliminary summary of brilacidin's potential as a novel coronavirus treatment to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which is dedicated to rapidly identifying and funding medical countermeasures to the COVID-19 outbreak   .