Pfizer eyes the next COVID-19 drug

As other COVID-19 drugs stumble in efficacy as the virus evolves, Pfizer and Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech startup Clear Creek Bio have partnered to develop a new treatment. 

Pfizer and Clear Creek Bio will collaborate to research SARS-CoV-2 papain-like protease (PLpro) inhibitors, with the aim of developing an oral treatment for COVID-19. It's still in its discovery phase, but if successful, Pfizer said it will pay the biotech company "an undisclosed upfront payment," milestone payments and royalties, according to a Dec. 6 news release. 

The enzyme PLpro is "a unique viral protease that cleaves important host regulators of innate immunity such as ISG15, resulting in dampened antiviral immune mechanisms," according to Clear Creek Bio's website


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