Cancer drug from lab of bankrupt biotech works against COVID-19 and MRSA lung damage in mice

Just in time for a summer COVID wave to remind us that SARS-CoV-2 is here to stay, researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have published new findings that show an experimental cancer drug developed by a now-bankrupt biotech can suppress the virus in lung tissue. 

In a July 3 article in Science Translational Medicine, the UCSD team established that levels of damage-causing immune cells called myeloid cells are raised in the lungs of people with COVID-19 and other infections, like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Targeting an enzyme called phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-kinase gamma (PI3Kγ) with the small molecule inhibitor eganelisib—a clinical-stage anti-cancer agent developed by Infinity Pharmaceuticals, which declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2023—reduced the number of myeloid cells in the lungs and improved the survival rate of mice infected with either COVID-19 or MRSA. 

“Other drugs were tested early during the COVID-19 crisis…
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