PITTSBURGH–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CytoAgents, a privately held biotechnology company focused on the development of pharmaceutical products for the treatment of viral infectious diseases, announced today that it has been awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to accelerate the development of its lead drug candidate, GP1681, an investigational new drug to treat severe influenza, and potentially COVID-19, by targeting hypercytokinemia, more commonly known as “cytokine storm.”

Scientific consensus is building that severe illness caused by influenza, COVID-19 and other infectious diseases is triggered by cytokine storm, an excessive immune response that attacks the body. GP1681 is a small molecule inhibitor of cytokine release in activated human immune cells that addresses an unmet need for therapeutic treatment. It has been shown to safely modulate the natural immune response by tamping down various cytokines and addresses the underlying cause of life-threatening symptoms associated with cytokine storm, which can cause more harm than the influenza or the virus itself.

“We thank and applaud the NIH for acting quickly to support the development of our game- changing new drug for cytokine storm,” said Teresa Whalen, RPh, CEO, CytoAgents. “The NIH grant is an incredible validation of our science, as we build a platform for respiratory illness, ultimately creating a powerful, lasting solution for cytokine storm.”

The Phase II SBIR grant of $1.6 million is non-dilutive funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the NIH, under Award Number 1R44AI152726-01, and will advance the research of GP1681. The grant will accelerate the development of GP1681, which will be going into Phase 1 and 2 human clinical trials in 2020.

About CytoAgents

CytoAgents is a privately held biotechnology company focused on the development of innovative pharmaceutical products for the treatment of COVID-19, influenza, viral infectious diseases and conditions that cause acute respiratory distress. Using a novel, host-directed approach, our lead compound, GP1681, targets the underlying cause of life-threatening respiratory distress, cytokine release syndrome, by modulating the body’s natural immune response to sickness or disease. We are committed to developing first-in-class, best-in-class products that meet a major medical need now and into the future.