BINGHAMTON — During the COVID-19 pandemic, people became familiar with the process of developing drugs, especially vaccines, because it was in the headlines. Names like Pfizer and Moderna became part of everyday conversation as the pandemic continued.
Companies like New Amsterdam Sciences (NAS) don’t usually make the headlines, but they’re there in the context of big pharma working every day to develop new drugs.
NAS — a clinical-stage bioscience company based at the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator at 120 Hawley St. in Binghamton — has been working throughout the pandemic on developing a drug that could help mitigate the effects of COVID- 19 and a number of other acute and chronic diseases.
“What we have is a super antioxidant,” NAS CEO Michael Wilhelm told CNYBJ. Dubbed NAS150, the potential new drug treats inflammation by stopping inflammation triggers.
In COVID, as in many other diseases, the body’s inflammatory response begins as soon as the virus reaches the cells of the body. For some people, this inflammatory response is overactive, Wilhelm says. Called a cytokine storm, it’s a hyper-immune response that actually makes it less effective at fighting disease. When this happens, these are the people who become seriously ill and end up in hospital, he says.
“What our drug does is keep everything in balance,” he says. “It’s an immune response modulator.” For people with COVID, it could be used as an early treatment to keep the immune response exactly where it needs to be to fight off the virus, he notes.
Of course, for that to happen, NAS must continue to study the drug and, if the data looks promising, partner with a pharmaceutical company to bring the drug to market.
NAS is now moving to phase two of this process. The first phase included safety studies and determination of the absence of serious adverse events (SAEs). This next phase will include a larger study with hundreds of sick patients.
“Now it’s about getting into humans affected by this disease,” Wilhelm notes.
As a biotech company, NAS lacks the research and development funds that big pharma does. In fact, most pharmaceutical companies have cut their R&D budgets and let smaller companies like NAS take the lead in developing new drugs, Wilhelm says. Then big companies join us when something looks promising.
In the meantime, New Amsterdam Sciences, a 100% subsidiary of NAS Bioholdings, is alone in raising the necessary funds for clinical studies. As part of its capital-raising drive to fund phase two of its NAS150 study, the company has a bridge loan of between $1 million and $2 million as it prepares for an initial public offering that it hopes will it will generate between 15 and 20 million dollars. Wilhelm expects the IPO to take place between mid-April and June.
If all goes as planned, NAS could conclude phase two of the study by September, but will have data to share with pharmaceutical companies by then. “We are currently talking with pharmaceutical companies,” says Wilhelm. “It looks very good.”
Not only does NAS150 show promise for treating COVID and preventing long-lasting COVID complications in patients, it is also “variant agnostic,” meaning that its effectiveness will not be diminished by new variants that come into play. could arise, he said. Additionally, NAS150 shows promise in helping to treat other conditions, including influenza and pneumonia.
The company will soon launch a study on the drug’s effectiveness in treating rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease that causes progressive loss of tissue and joint function that can rapidly decrease mobility and quality of life in patients. . NAS is collaborating with the University of Liverpool in the UK on this effort. Studies will be performed to generate additional data demonstrating the therapeutic benefit of targeting inflammation caused by the uncontrolled production of neutrophil-derived reactive oxygen species (or ROS) in the joints, NAS said in a statement. .
As things ramp up with the study and IPO, Wilhelm says he will augment his current staff of three by adding a CFO and other members of the management team. .
NAS (newamsterdamsciences.com), which started in 2014, does not have its own laboratory. Rather, it subcontracts to research organizations and scientists. The lean operating formula allows the company to invest most of its capital directly in financing studies, Wilhelm explains.
Looking forward, he would like to see more businesses like his in the Binghamton area where they will benefit area colleges and students.
“I would love to be part of a team that will set up a biotech incubator in this area,” he says. “I would love to be part of something that advances science here.”