TORONTO, April 13, 2020 — QuestCap Inc. (“QuestCap” or the “Company”) (CSE:QSC; FRA:34C1) announced today that further to its release of April 3, 2020, it has acquired 40 per cent of the issued and outstanding shares of life science company Amino Therapeutics (“Amino”). Amino is currently focused on developing biologic therapeutics for COVID-19. QuestCap cautions that this is still early stage research and development and is not making any express or implied claims that it has the ability to treat the SARS-CoV-2 virus at this time.
“The current global state of emergency presented by the COVID-19 pandemic requires immediate action,” said Stan Bharti, Co-Chairman of QuestCap. “QuestCap is pleased to support Amino’s efforts to rapidly develop the next generation of biologic therapeutics to potentially combat the COVID-19 crisis and to build a platform for future drug discovery.”
“From a scientific perspective, Amino has a novel approach to develop a potential COVID-19 treatment,” explained David Preiner, President and Chief Executive Officer of Amino. “The SARS-CoV-2 is the virus responsible for the COVID-19 disease and current global pandemic, and we’re optimistic that our approach may yield effective treatments for patients with COVID-19.
Amino’s research initiatives target two significant pain points in modern medicine: a lack of effective small molecule drug candidates and targeted drug delivery systems to transport biologics into the cytosol. Our research of peptide-based protease inhibitors is different than anything else we know of targeting COVID-19.”
About Antiviral Protease Inhibitors
The main protease (Mpro, also called 3CLpro) is an enzyme that processes polyproteins after being translated from the viral RNA and is required for the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. One of the greatest barriers to developing effective antiviral agents for the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a lack of molecular targets. A critical enzymatic component of SARS-CoV-2 is the main protease (Mpro, also called 3CLpro), which is required for viral replication. The main protease is responsible catalyzing proteolysis, a process of cleaving the peptide bonds from larger proteins (synthesized from the host’s ribosome from viral RNA) to form smaller polypeptides. The polypeptides are the functional proteins and structural proteins that become the constituents of replicated SARS-CoV-2 viruses. Protease inhibitors are function by selectively bonding with specific proteases. Synthetic protease inhibitors are traditionally small molecule drug candidates that require significant computational modeling, biological assays, and upfront investment to engineer. Whereas, many naturally occurring protease inhibitors are comprised of proteins and amino acids.
Many of the most successful antiviral medications used to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus have protease inhibitors, but previous drugs are not without limitations. Small molecule protease inhibitors oftentimes present with off-target binding and poorly optimized pharmacokinetics, which collectively can lead to dangerous undesirable side effects. HIV and hepatitis C RNA based viruses have previously shown attenuated levels of replication and pathogenesis being treated with protease inhibitors, which suggests a similar therapeutic mechanism of action could be an ideal treatment for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. (Deg et al., 2014)
About Cell Penetrating Peptides
A leading drug delivery system, cell penetrating peptides are designed to enable biologics to reach intracellular targets, which could potentially have therapeutic applications far broader than has ever been previously possible with standalone biologics or small molecule drug candidates. 64% of all proteins in the human proteome that are estimated to be synthesized intracellularly in the cytoplasm and/or the nucleus, which is why cell penetrating peptides could have broad applications in the future of drug discovery (Uhlén M et al, 2015). Over 12,630 proteins in the human proteome are estimated to exist intracellularly, many of which have not been accessible with previous drug delivery approaches (Uhlén M et al, 2015).
Evidence suggests that approximately 90% of the entire human proteome does not contain a surface area with a functional dependence, binding cavity, or structural feature suitable for a small-molecule based therapeutics (Hopkins and Groom, 2002). Since small molecule drugs cannot be utilized in many instances and since most proteins lack the required specifications and molecular properties that are required to permeate the cell membrane, many intracellular therapeutic targets have historically been considered undruggable (Hopkins and Groom, 2002).
About QuestCap Inc.
QuestCap is an investment company that seeks to enhance shareholder value over the long term by opportunistically making various investments that may include, without limitation, the acquisition of equity, debt or other securities of publicly traded or private companies or other entities, financing in exchange for pre-determined royalties or distributions and the acquisition of all or part of one or more businesses, portfolios or other assets.
About Amino Therapeutics, Inc.
Amino is working to create the next generation of novel cell penetrating peptides to spearhead the development of biologic pharmaceuticals focusing on intracellular mechanisms of action. Amino’s current leading project is to develop broad spectrum protease inhibitors as a potential therapeutic treatment for patients with COVID-19.
About Exponential Genomics, Inc.
Exponential Genomics is building next-generation life science companies focused on combating the world’s greatest challenges—feeding, fueling, and healing humanity. Built by a team of scientists trained at Harvard and MIT, our core technology is a novel gene-editing technique designed to perform over 400 years of CRISPR in 8 weeks. Our Xenoarray technology is well positioned to revolutionize gene editing techniques by enabling gene knock-ins of up to 8,000 base pairs or 8 unique genes. The system is designed to generate at least 3,000 unique cell lines from each experiment, which radically streamlines the process of integrating parallel workflows in bioengineering. Experts on the Xenomics’ leadership team
David Preiner, Founder & CEO
John Harrold, PhD, Co-Founder & COO
Sophie Ni, PhD, Co-Founder & CPO
Ryan Hubbard, MD, Co-Founder & CMO
Dan Kriznic, CPA, CA, Co-Founder & CFO
Natasha Collins, CPA, CA, VP Finance
Olivier Roussy Newton, VP Business Development
David Wood, PhD LLB, Advisor
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G Scott Moore, Co-Chair
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Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Information
This press release contains “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. Forward-looking information includes, but is not limited to, statements with respect to future cash injections by QuestCap into Amino; statements with respect to the acquisition of an equity interest in Amino; and the potential of any COVID-19 Treatment. Generally, forward-looking information can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “plans”, “expects” or “does not expect”, “is expected”, “budget”, “scheduled”, “estimates”, “forecasts”, “intends”, “anticipates” or “does not anticipate”, or “believes”, or variations of such words and phrases or state that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will be taken”, “occur” or “be achieved”. Forward-looking information is subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of the Company, as the case may be, to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward -looking information. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking information, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that such information will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. The Company does not undertake to update any forward-looking information, except in accordance with applicable securities laws.
NEITHER THE CANADIAN SECURITIES EXCHANGE NOR ITS REGULATION SERVICES PROVIDER HAS REVIEWED OR ACCEPTS RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ADEQUACY OR ACCURACY OF THIS RELEASE.