July 09, 2020
A Philadelphia area genetics expert is leading a research fund aimed at determining whether existing drugs can be used to treat COVID-19.
Barbara Handelin has launched the Audacity R4 Medicines Evergreen Fund in hopes of raising $150 million to test drugs created in the wake of the SARS outbreak against COVID-19, the New York Post reported.
Handelin is the CEO of Audacity Therapeutics, a public benefit pharmaceutical company based in Paoli, Chester County.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and COVID-19 are each caused by coronaviruses. SARS proved more lethal than COVID-19, but did not spread as easily and vanished within two years. Because the viruses share many similarities, Handelin believes there's a chance an existing drug could treat COVID-19.
"Some of our colleagues were working on this 10 years ago," Handelin told the newspaper. "We were unprepared for this crisis despite having 90% of the science on coronaviruses."
If one of the drugs proves successful, Audacity will produce it in local manufacturing facilities, Handelin said.
Audacity hopes to reach its fundraising goal by getting the participation of investors like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which previously has donated to coronavirus research, and BlackRock, the world's largest investment management corporation.
The fund projects to gain a 3-5% annual return over 10 years.
Other members of the Audacity's leadership include David Housman, a genetics researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Chief Operating Officer Todd J. Keitz, a Temple University graduate.