8 VC-Backed Startups Helping Treat COVID-19

Many U.S. VC-backed startups are helping fight COVID-19 by developing, testing, and implementing treatments that can manage, alleviate, or even prevent the symptoms of the virus.

The big picture: NVCA created a Startups Combating COVID tracker showcasing startups supporting the fight against COVID-19. Here are a few highlights of those companies.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the world, many U.S. VC-backed startups are helping fight the virus by developing, testing, and implementing treatments that can manage, alleviate, or even prevent the symptoms of COVID-19.  The venture industry is proud to support these innovative companies by providing capital and strategic guidance that is essential to tackling the crisis.

These healthcare companies have shifted their resources to specifically address COVID-19 by developing new treatments for patients infected with the virus, or adapting treatments they had already created to help COVID-19 patients.

NVCA has created a Startups Combating COVID tracker with many examples of startups supporting the fight against COVID-19. Here are a few highlights of those companies that are working on treatments for COVID-19:

1. Adaptive Biotechnologies

Adaptive Biotechnologies and Amgen have partnered to combine expertise to discover and develop a neutralizing antibody targeting the COVID-19 virus to potentially speed the recovery from, or even prevent, COVID-19. Neutralizing antibodies defend healthy cells by interfering with the function of an invading virus. These antibodies may be used to treat someone currently fighting the disease and provide passive immunity to people who have recently been exposed to the virus.

2. Applied Therapeutics

Applied Therapeutics’s clinical stage treatment ‘AT-001’ is being utilized in several hospitals in New York City to address acute lung inflammation and cardiomyopathy in critical COVID-19 patients. AT-001 is currently being accessed in these New York City hospitals via “Named Patient” Emergency INDs or Investigator-Initiated Trials, depending on the patient circumstance and hospital institution.

3. Celularity Inc.

Celularity Inc. is expanding its collaboration with United Therapeutics to use Celularity’s proprietary cell-therapy ‘CYNK-001’ for the treatment of COVID-19. This cell-therapy could reduce the amount of virus found in patients with COVID-19. Celularity’s drug is a “natural killer” cell therapy that could attack cells infected with the COVID-19 virus.

4. Cytovia Therapeutics

Cytovia Therapeutics is developing an antibody designed to activate virus-killing cells in the body to block the virus from entering cells, preventing COVID-19 from spreading in patients. Natural Killer cells are a first line of defense against severe acute infectious diseases. Cytovia’s treatment has the potential to minimize the virus escaping from immune responses, inhibiting the intensification of respiratory inflammation, and potentially destroying virus-infected cells while also blocking the entry of the virus into cells.

5. Humanigen Inc.

Humanigen Inc. is conducting clinical trials with its drug Lenzilumab, which may reduce serious or fatal outcomes in COVID-19 patients. These clinical trials have so far shown that in high-risk COVID-19 patients with severe pneumonia, Lenzilumab was associated with improved clinical outcomes.

6. Partner Therapeutics

Partner Therapeutics has initiated clinical trials of its drug Leukine in patients with acute respiratory failure associated with COVID-19. The trials will evaluate the effect of Leukine on improving lung function in COVID-19 patients and helping them recover more quickly, so fewer will need to go into intensive care. Leukine could also aid the production of antibodies against the virus and help restore lung cells damaged by COVID-19.

7. SAB Biotherapeutics

SAB Biotherapeutics is working to develop an antibody therapeutic candidate for COVID-19 that may be used both as a treatment for patients already infected with the virus, and for immediate protection (passive immunity) when a vaccine is not an option. This new therapy could have significant value for use to protect front-line responders, mission-critical staff, and high-risk populations, such as the elderly and immune compromised.

8. Sarepta Therapeutics

Sarepta Therapeutics is working with the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) to utilize Sarepta’s proprietary RNA platform as possible treatments for COVID-19. Previously published clinical and preclinical studies of Sarepta’s RNA technology have found evidence of antiviral activity of Sarepta’s technology in coronaviruses and other viruses.

Learn more about the critical work being done by VC-backed companies to combat COVID-19 on our tracker on our COVID-19 webpage.

And if you are a VC that has a portfolio company that is working on COVID-19 related issues, or are a VC-backed company working on COVID-19 issues, please share your story with us by completing this short survey.

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As the Manager of Communications and Digital Strategy at NVCA, Devin plays a central role in NVCA’s communications operation, communicating with key constituencies in the entrepreneurial ecosystem as well as enhancing NVCA’s brand in Washington, D.C. Devin develops and executes on the organization’s communications and public relations strategies and creates media content to support them.