PITTSBURGH–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CytoAgents a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on development of pharmaceutical products for the treatment of viral infectious diseases, including COVID-19 and the resulting cytokine storm, announced today that it has received an investment to accelerate the development of its lead drug candidate, GP1681, an investigational new drug to treat “cytokine storm” induced by COVID-19, from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. The Program Related Investment is part of the foundation’s $25 million Pandemic Solutions Package to jump-start COVID-19 response strategies.

“COVID-19 has shown the world an urgent need for new treatments. One of our goals is to seed quick solutions to the community’s most immediate healthcare needs,” said Sam Reiman, Director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation. “CytoAgents’ approach is promising and we are pleased to make this investment as they address a critical and unmet need of this pandemic.”

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. GP1681 differentiates itself from other immunotherapy solutions as it will be an affordable, oral therapeutic that targets the optimal range of cytokines as an important component of a multi-faceted treatment plan.

“It’s an honor to be selected for this funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation,” said Teresa Whalen, RPh, CEO, CytoAgents. “The investment is an exceptional vote of confidence as we build a platform for respiratory illness, ultimately creating a powerful, lasting solution for cytokine storm and for any respiratory epidemic.”

The $250,000 investment will accelerate the development of GP1681, which will be going into Phase 1 and Phase 2 human clinical trials in 2020.

About CytoAgents

CytoAgents is a clinical-stage 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.

About the Richard King Mellon Foundation

Founded in 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation is the largest foundation in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Foundations’ 2019 endowment was $2.7 billion and its Trustees in 2019 awarded 172 grants totaling $129 million, focused on the Foundation’s strategic priorities: Education, human services, economic development, and environmental conservation.