PharmaMar, a Spanish firm, is beginning Phase II clinical trials for its anti-tumour drug Aplidin to treat coronavirus. The firm’s stocks have soared on the news.


PharmaMar is joining the race to find a treatment for COVID1-9. The Madrid-based company that developed multiple myeloma therapy Aplidin (plitidepsin) announced that it has submitted the necessary documentation to the Spanish Medicines and Healthcare Products Agency (AEMPS) to test Aplidin in a Phase II trial in people with COVID-19-related pneumonia.


In the week following this announcement, PharmaMar’s stocks jumped 9.5 percent, with an overall increase of 7.5 percent in the last month.  


Around 160 patients in Spain and France will be recruited to take part in the upcoming Phase 2 trial named APLICOV which aims to assess if the drug is able to slow COVID-19’s progress towards acute respiratory distress syndrome, which causes respiratory failure and increases the need for mechanical ventilation in already overcrowded intensive care units (ICUs).


Aplidin, which was initially developed by isolating the sea squirt Aplidium albicans, was recently suggested to have antiviral properties. Aplidin was tested earlier this month via in vitro studies on a coronavirus called HCoV-229E, which has a similar propagation mechanism to COVID-19. The positive results obtained from this study led PharmaMar to seek approval for further clinical trials, hopeful for it to be an effective treatment.


PharmaMar president José María Fernández underscored the necessity of collaboration to fight against the pandemic and said he is hopeful that plitidepsin can be “an effective weapon against COVID-19.” (Source)