ENA Respiratory, a biotechnology company developing a nasal spray for the prevention of COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections, has secured up to $32 million in a capital raise.
The company said the new financing will advance INNA-051, its lead clinical candidate being developed to activate innate immunity in the nose, the primary site of most respiratory virus infections, including COVID-19.
The company said it is poised to initiate a phase one human safety study of INNA-051 in Australia in the coming weeks.
The capital raise was jointly led by Australian life science investors, Brandon Capital Partners, and leading philanthropic organisation, Minderoo Foundation, with co-investment from Australian university venture fund, Uniseed.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a major health crisis worldwide. Alongside vaccines, there is a need for complementary approaches to help protect the most vulnerable people and also provide protection against emerging variants,” said Dr Christophe Demaison, co-founder and CEO of ENA Respiratory.
“INNA-051 is seeking to address this need. The financing announced today from the Minderoo Foundation and existing investors will expedite development of INNA-051 with the aim to demonstrate efficacy against COVID-19 in the clinic.”
INNA-051 directly stimulates the host’s innate immune defence that plays a key role in clearing viruses and other pathogens.
“We recognize that in addition to vaccines, the world needs safe, convenient, broad-spectrum anti-viral therapies to win the fight against COVID-19,” says Dr Chris Smith, Chairman of ENA Respiratory.
“INNA-051 could be incredibly helpful in protecting at-risk populations such as health workers, the elderly and immunocompromised patients against existing and emerging variants. Because INNA-051 is not virus-specific, it could also play a key role beyond fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, in combating seasonal flu or any future respiratory viral outbreaks.”
The company also announced the appointment of Dr Ruth Tal-Singer to its Board of Directors. US-based Dr Tal-Singer is internationally recognised as an innovative, patient-focused, and highly analytical health care leader and clinical scientist with extensive research and development experience.
“Dr Tal-Singer brings nearly 25 years of experience leading the research and development of respiratory therapies, from therapeutic target identification to phases I-IV research and regulatory approvals, as well as collaborations with academic and industry partners,” said Dr Demaison said. “Her significant expertise in research, patient and community support, public education and advocacy will help guide us as we accelerate the development of INNA-051 to address the COVID-19 pandemic and other significant respiratory illnesses.”