University of California, Berkeley, Excivion and CycloLab team-up to develop the antiviral potential of cyclodextrins against SARS-CoV-2

News 7 May, 2020
UC Berkeley, Excivion and CycloLab announce a supplemental grant awarded to UC Berkeley by the National Institutes of Health to evaluate a wide range of cyclodextrins as a potential treatment against SARS-CoV-2 (agent of COVID-19 disease). 
The medical uses and safety of cyclodextrins as excipients for important drugs against cancer and viral infections are well established. However, cyclodextrins have considerable potential and versatility to be developed as drugs in their own right. The consortium formed for evaluating cyclodextrins’ activity against different viruses was established in June 2019 by CycloLab Cyclodextrin R&D Laboratory Ltd, a Hungary-based company focusing on cyclodextrin research and manufacturing, Dr. Eva Harris’ group at the University of California, Berkeley, excelling in virology, and Excivion, a UK-based company developing novel vaccine solutions to epidemic and pandemic disease threats. NIH-supported studies (via a grant entitled “Mechanism and in vivo activity of novel glycan-based therapy against flavivirus endothelial permeability and vascular leak”) and internally funded research aims to understand the molecular mechanisms of cyclodextrins’ antiviral and anti-leak activity against dengue and Zika viruses.

“While certain cyclodextrin derivatives are known to have antiviral activity (against HIV, herpes, RSV, influenza, etc.), so far no study has sought to understand their mechanism(s) of action and optimize the cyclodextrin structure to exploit the highest possible antiviral and anti-disease potency.” said Tamas Sohajda, R&D Director of CycloLab. “Our consortium has been exploring this approach, and we have obtained promising initial findings. The screening study now planned will enable the establishment of detailed structure-activity relationships towards an evidence-based rational design and development of novel cyclodextrin drugs.”

Having initially embarked upon flavivirus research under the original grant, the consortium applied for supplementary NIH funding specifically for SARS-CoV-2, which has now been approved (“Evaluation of therapeutics targeting SARS-CoV-2 infection and defining pathogenic mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2-triggered pulmonary dysfunction”).

About Dr. Eva Harris’ Lab
Dr. Eva Harris is a Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Center for Global Public Health in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. Her group has developed a multidisciplinary approach to study molecular virology, pathogenesis, immunology, epidemiology, diagnostics, clinical aspects and control of dengue, Zika and chikungunya, the most prevalent mosquito-borne viral diseases in humans. This work has recently been extended to address pathogenesis, therapeutics, epidemiology, and control of SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease.
About Excivion Ltd
Excivion is a biotech company based in Cambridge UK, developing inventive vaccine solutions for the prevention and eradication of pandemic diseases. The company specializes in the rational molecular design of vaccine antigens to avoid predictable side-effects such as antibody-dependent-enhancement of disease, which is an increasing problem in the world. Excivion is also developing proprietary heat-stable adjuvant systems and point-of-care diagnostics in support of vaccine programs that meet the needs of developing and developed countries.    
About CycloLab
CycloLab is a Hungary-based SME focusing on cyclodextrin research and development as well as manufacturing. The company has almost 50 years of experience in this field and was a pioneer in introducing cyclodextrins to the pharmaceutical industry. Nowadays, CycloLab acts as a manufacturer of GMP grade cyclodextrins, creator of the widest set of cyclodextrin derivatives (over 200 different types) globally and a key source of knowledge for developing cyclodextrin based formulations. The pipeline of the company focuses on inventing novel applications of cyclodextrins, such as their uses in formulation biologicals, applications in biotech processes and vaccines, creating drug delivery systems, or their uses as active ingredients in a wide range of diseases. For more information, please visit
Follow CycloLab on Linkedin or Twitter @Cyclolab1.
Released May 7, 2020, Budapest