UTRF licensee Veru, Inc. announced today significant potential of VERU-111 in treating COVID-19, both as a broad-spectrum antiviral and an anti-inflammatory agent, which may help prevent effects leading to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

Statistically significant data from the Phase 2 clinical study results show an 81% relative reduction in death or respiratory failure at Day 29, as well as an 82% relative reduction in patient mortality versus placebo.

The small molecule drug VERU-111 originated from a collaboration between the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Ohio State University, and GTx. Principle UTHSC researchers involved in developing the molecule include: Dr. Wei Li, UTHSC Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Director of the UTHSC College of Pharmacy Drug Discovery Center; Dr. Duane D. Miller, Professor Emeritus in the UTHSC Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; and Dr. James T. Dalton, now executive vice president and provost of The University of Alabama.

The drug molecule was subsequently patented and then licensed exclusively to Veru Inc., from which the drug gets its name.

Veru is an oncology biopharmaceutical company with a primary focus on developing novel medicines for the management of prostate and breast cancer. However, Mitchell Steiner, M.D., Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Veru notes that the urgency of the global pandemic and need for more effective treatment options make the company “duty-bound” to use their additional resources to pursue regulatory and clinical development of VERU-111 for COVID-19, especially given that drugs like VERU-111 that target microtubules have broad antiviral activity by disrupting the intracellular transport of viruses such as SARS CoV-2.

For more information on results of the Phase 2 clinical study and development steps to move VERU-111 for COVID-19 forward, see the full press release from Veru, Inc.