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November 01, 2020 | Tom Ballard

NellOne working with USU on evaluation of its proprietary NELL1 protein to address COVID-19

Can a proprietary composition of the NELL1 protein developed by Knoxville-based NellOne Therapeutics play a key role in the fight to solve the COVID-19 puzzle?

We noted in this June post in that the company had filed a provisional patent for the protein related to the novel coronavirus. Now comes word that a Bethesda, MD-based organization focused on the readiness of America’s Warfighter and the health and well-being of the military community has taken note.

Researchers at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) are working with their counterparts at the local regenerative medicine company on a study that’s looking at the proprietary protein to treat the severe tissue damage occurring as a result of the novel coronavirus.

According to this article, Roopa Biswas, an Associate Professor, and others on the USU research team have long studied ribonucleic acids, or RNAs, as well as short segments of RNAs, known as microRNAs or miRNAs.  RNAs have recently emerged as an important therapeutic target for COVID-19 and are being used to develop COVID-19 vaccines.

Under a material transfer agreement with NellOne, USU researchers are working with NellOne scientists on a study that’s looking at the NELL1 protein that has been previously shown to restore injured bone, cartilage, skeletal and heart muscle tissues via mechanisms (for example, regulation of over-inflammation, stem cell recruitment, blood vessel formation and balancing cell growth and maturation) that are also necessary to mitigate respiratory tissue damage caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection.

“We are thrilled at NellOne to be in cooperation with Dr. Biswas and part of her important work in this area,” said Bill Malkes, Chief Executive Officer. “For more than a decade, our Founder’s (Dr. Cymbeline Culiat) work has shown that the NELL1 has great promise as a therapeutic in reducing hyperinflammation while promoting tissue regeneration under the adverse cellular environment of viral infection. We believe our proprietary NV1 has virtually unbridled potential as a regenerative therapy for virally induced lung injury as well as a plethora of other regenerative treatments.”

Ironically, Biswas came to the U.S. in 1991 after earning her M.S. degree at the University of Calcutta and worked for a year as a graduate student at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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