New Haven biotech receives $5M from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for Covid-19 treatment


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– The latest Covid-19 treatment being developed in Connecticut is based on the results seen treating patients with convalescent plasma donated from those who had the virus.

“Convalescent serum is taking the antibodies of people who’ve survived Covid-19 and then to use them as either a preventative therapy for people who have yet to catch it, or to reduce the severity of the disease for people who do have,” says Dr. Doug Manion, CEO of New Haven based Kleo Pharmaceuticals.

Manion explains that the challenge with convalescent serum is the constant need for donors, and he says that Covid-19 survivors have different levels of antibodies.

Kleo Pharmaceuticals discovered a way to make a lab version of that plasma. Its called Hyperimmunie globulin mimic, or “HGM.”

Doctor Manion says the Gates Foundation saw the potential in his five-year old company’s therapeutic and recently informed them they would be receiving five million dollars to advance the technology. He says it also appears to have a two-pronged effect.

“Drugs of this type both have an immediate effect on the virus and have an immune based post therapy effect could last for many more weeks,” says Dr. Manion.

He says the drug could have a valuable preventative quality.

“We could be effective in preventing infection in high risk populations for instance the elderly, healthcare providers, first responders, and maybe even students.”

The drug would not work on very sick Covid-19 patients. Kleo pharmaceuticals is hoping to get approval for human trials in late fall, with the supplies available to ramp up production for widespread distribution quickly.

Manion says his company is highly committed to growing the biotech sector in New Haven, and he sees no reason why Connecticut should not be a hub for biotech innovation, easily rivaling Cambridge and San Francisco. 

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