City-based pharma research firm PNB Vesper has secured the drug controller’s permission to launch phase-II clinical trials for a potential COVID-19 drug — making it the first in the world to begin such trials for a new chemical entity, a top company official said on Friday. The 15-year-old company has developed six new chemical entities and the latest one — PNB001 — will be tested for treating coronavirus patients. The molecule was initially developed for lung cancer, the company’s promoter and chief executive P N Balaram said.
The firm’s labs are located in Britain. He said the company on Thursday received permission from the Central Licensing Authority under the Central Drugs Standard Organisation for the second phase of clinical trials. This makes PNB Vesper the only company in the world to launch clinical trials for an all-new molecule for COVID-19 treatment, he added.