Hummingbird gets green light for Covid-19 antibody clinical trial study

BIOTECH startup Hummingbird Biosciences has received approval from Singapore's Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for a clinical trial to study its experimental antibody therapy against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

Based on pre-clinical data, the antibody therapy, called HMBD-115, has shown significant therapeutic benefit and has been "highly efficacious in multiple models of Covid-19", Hummingbird said in a press release.

The Phase I and II clinical trials of HMBD-115 are ongoing, and early read-out is expected in December. The Phase III trial is scheduled for end-2020.

Hummingbird had been working with partners in Singapore and the US on a Covid-19 response programme since the emergence of the pandemic, the startup's chief executive Piers Ingram told The Business Times.

HMBD-115 is Hummingbird's first pipeline asset to enter the clinic, which Dr Ingram cited as "a significant company milestone".

He added: "Although much work has been done on antibodies targeting Covid-19, and there has been encouraging early data, there remains much to understand about the optimal mechanisms of action and effective treatment strategies."

Chik Wai Chiew, chief executive of Hummingbird backer Heritas Capital, said that the trials mark "a new milestone" as Hummingbird enters clinical development stage.

"This achievement has come atop the commitment to existing main discovery and development programmes before Covid-19 pandemic hits us. However, a sense of mission and purpose has united shareholders, founders, management team and staff towards finding a cure for Covid-19 patients in a short timeframe, demonstrating the deep scientific and development capabilities of the team," said Mr Chik, who is also a director at the startup.

Hummingbird was started in 2015 by Dr Ingram, who is trained in systems biology, and Jerome Boyd-Kirkup, the startup's chief scientific officer. Its backers include Heritas, SEEDS Capital, the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore, and Mirae Asset Capital.