Ceapro Inc. Provides Update on Development of an Inhalable Therapeutic Using Yeast Beta Glucan Processed with Pressurized Gas eXpanded Technology (PGX-YBG)

McMaster’s research team discovers new mechanism of action for PGX-YBG

PGX-YBG demonstrates ability to reprogram macrophages on its own

PGX-YBG may be a suitable therapeutic solution for patients with fibrotic lung disease and late stage COVID-19 patients

EDMONTON, Alberta, Nov. 11, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ceapro Inc. (TSX-V: CZO; OTCQX: CRPOF) (“Ceapro” or the “Company”), a growth-stage biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of active ingredients for healthcare and cosmetic industries, today provided an update on its ongoing collaboration with McMaster University to develop an inhalable therapeutic for COVID-19 which could also be used to treat post-COVID-19 conditions.

The project, entitled “PGX-processed yeast beta-glucans as an inhalable immunomodulating therapeutic for COVID-19 patients,” jointly funded by Mitacs and Ceapro, is being conducted under the leadership of Dr. Kjetil Ask, a pulmonary fibrosis expert, and Dr. Todd Hoare from departments of Medicine and Chemical Engineering, respectively, at McMaster University.

This project was initiated in August 2019 when McMaster University and Ceapro researchers were reviewing preliminary data collected as part of a collaborative research program where one of the goals was to develop delivery systems to optimize drug formulations used for chronic diseases such as Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). While yeast beta glucan appeared to be a promising compound, researchers thought that the ideal formulation to treat fibrotic lung disorders would be to develop an inhalable complex produced by loading a drug onto PGX-processed yeast beta glucan (PGX-YBG). Following preliminary experiments with PGX-YBG alone and/or combined with a drug they realized that PGX-YBG could be much more than a carrier and that it could be used as the active component in a new antifibrotic treatment for the most severe lung diseases including COVID-19 patients.

“We have shown that the PGX technology can convert materials that can’t easily be inhaled, in particular, a YBG-based particle that has inherent immunomodulatory properties, into materials that can readily access the lung,” commented Dr. Hoare. “Combining this property with the very high internal surface area of the PGX-processed microparticles that enables high-concentration drug loading using Ceapro’s supercritical drug impregnation process, we are very excited about the potential of this technology for treating diseases of the lung, including potentially late-stage COVID-19.”

The team has successfully demonstrated that Ceapro’s PGX technology can produce low density, highly porous, and purified YBG microparticles with a small and uniform size distribution. These unique particles were found to possess improved aerodynamic properties, allowing them to be inhaled and deposited in the deep lung where fibrotic development occurs.

At the heart of this project is fibrosis: the unregulated and excessive production of scar tissue in organs. Key immune cells called macrophages apparently play a crucial role in maintaining and progressing the fibrotic state. “M1” macrophages express pro-inflammatory properties and “M2” macrophages express the complete opposite anti-inflammatory properties. During fibrosis, M2-like macrophages persist in the fibrotic lung and secrete cytokines (cell signaling molecules) that stimulate the cells around them to constantly produce and deposit scar tissue in the deep lung. These recent findings indicate that PGX-YBG, which binds specifically to Dectin-1 receptors at the surface of macrophages, can repolarize or “reprogram” M2-like macrophages into M1-like macrophages thereby putting an end to tissue deposition (fibrosis) and initiating the much-needed removal of excess tissues.

“We have shown, in vitro, that PGX-YBG have the ability to prevent the activation of macrophages toward a pro-fibrotic phenotype. In addition, PGX-YBG treatment to macrophages that have already acquired a pro-fibrotic phenotype result in the reprogramming of the macrophages toward a classical phenotype not known to be pro-fibrotic. Using cells from animals lacking the beta-glucan receptor Dectin-1, we showed that this was dependent on the presence of the Dectin-1 receptor. These findings are very exciting as macrophage reprogramming is seen as a viable therapeutic strategy toward fibrotic disease and PGX-YBG seem to have this ability. In vivo, we have shown that PGX-YBG can be safely administered to mice, and preliminary data shows an ability to prevent fibrogenesis in an experimental model of lung fibrosis. We are looking forward to validating these in vivo findings over the next few months,” reported Dr. Ask.

To advance this promising technology to human clinical trials, the Company is working to ensure that the delivery of PGX-YBG to the lung is optimized. It will also be important to further validate PGX-YBG’s performance for reducing lung fibrosis, both alone and loaded with an anti-inflammatory drug currently used for lung fibrosis and COVID-19 therapy. The potential impact of this project is considerable since, one of the most common and deadly fibrotic diseases is IPF for which there are no cure and a short (3-5 year) survival rate. It was recently also shown that lung fibrosis can occur and persists for months in some COVID-19 patients thereby suggesting that COVID-19 survivors may suffer from post-infection pulmonary fibrosis complications.

“We are very pleased with the progress made in this research project. Considering these recent, exciting findings, we believe it certainly becomes necessary to conduct additional animal studies before initiating human trials to develop the best possible tool in the fight against lung fibrotic diseases including COVID-19 and post COVID-19 complications,” commented Gilles Gagnon, M.Sc., MBA, President and CEO of Ceapro. “We are thankful for the collaborative work with the team at McMaster University and look forward to further development.”

About Ceapro Inc.

Ceapro Inc. is a Canadian biotechnology company involved in the development of proprietary extraction technology and the application of this technology to the production of extracts and “active ingredients” from oats and other renewable plant resources. Ceapro adds further value to its extracts by supporting their use in cosmeceutical, nutraceutical, and therapeutics products for humans and animals. The Company has a broad range of expertise in natural product chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry, immunology and process engineering. These skills merge in the fields of active ingredients, biopharmaceuticals and drug-delivery solutions. For more information on Ceapro, please visit the Company’s website at www.ceapro.com.

For more information contact:

Jenene Thomas
Investor Relations and Corporate Communications Advisor
T (US): +1 (833) 475-8247
E: czo@jtcir.com

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Source: Ceapro Inc.