Sorrento Therapeutics (Ticker: SRNE) acquired SmartPharm this week for $18.6 million. The pharmaceutical company offered approximately 1.76 million shares to SmartPharm for $10.60 each. The motivation for this is to support efforts to further develop antibody treatments for COVID-19 and other diseases. Sorrento claims it has an antibody that grabs and then blocks the virus so that it is unable to infect the cells. These study results came from an experiment with hamsters and cells grown in the laboratory.

Is Sorrento making the right decisions?

The study results have not yet been published or confirmed by any other party, but Sorrento appears convinced of its case. It is going to ask the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for permission to conduct new studies of the antibody in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Critics do not seem convinced of the development. This is because antibodies are expensive to create and must be administered in a complicated way. Therefore, this method is questioned because the aim is to find a method that can be applied easily and quickly to a large number of patients. Sorrento, on the other hand, states that it has therefore acquired SmartPharm to promote the possibilities surrounding the antibody.

The technology of SmartPharm works as follows. Pieces of DNA (named plasmids) are used, which contain instructions for making antibodies. When injected into the arm, the plasmids are taken up by nearby muscle cells where they will produce antibodies in an automatic body process. Sorrento says integrating the technology with existing antibody products has the potential to make antibody therapy significantly more affordable and accessible to patients.

It is doubtful whether the takeover is viewed positively by the rest of the world. Sorrento fell by as much as 15% after the company presentation and the publication of the company’s overview. It has a lower than average volume and analysts notice that the pressure is increasing. However, the pharmaceutical company specializes in different phases of the virus and other medical treatments, so it does not seem to be betting on one horse. This does increase the market opportunities for the company that currently has the following developments in the pipeline:


It is developing a Protein Vaccine T-VIVA-19 against of SARS-CoV-2. T-VIVA-19 employs the fusion protein rS1-Fc, designed to target Fc-receptor expressing antigen-presenting cells for enhanced and effective induction of anti-SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies and T cell responses


COVI-TRACK test detects IgG and IgM antibodies in peripheral blood in eight minutes with a sensitivity of 94% and a specificity of 97%. The test develops three clear lines to confirm the detection and differentiation of IgM and IgG antibodies associated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in saliva in approximately thirty minutes.

Early intervention

Sorrento is developing a Neutralizing Antibody which binds to S1 subunit of SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein. COVI-GUARD (STI-1499) Fc region is engineered to eliminate interactions with host Fc receptors, thereby potentially decreasing risk of Antibody Dependent Enhancement of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Rescue intervention

Abivertinib is a novel Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor with dual selective targeting of mutant forms of EGFR and BTK that has completed a registration trial (lung cancer) and been administered to over 600 patients worldwide. The compound demonstrated in-vitro the ability to simultaneously lower multiple critical inflammatory cytokines associated with cytokine storm and poor prognosis in COVID-19 patients. It is to be tested next in a Phase 2 trial in moderate to severe COVID-19 patients, hospitalized with developing cytokine storm in the lungs.


The most advanced candidate is phase 3 phase abivertinib for NSCLC. Three other programs in phase 1: CD38 CAR T in multiple myeloma, CD38 antibody-drug conjugate in amyloidosis and seprehvir in solid tumors.


An agonist of a protein called transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TRPV1), in early development for cancer pain and pain-related osteoarthritis of the knee.

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