Aug 5, 2020

ANA Therapeutics $5mn seed round for COVID-19 treatment

ANA Therapeutics
William Smith
2 min
ANA Therapeutics is a Silicon Valley, California-based biotech company developing a coronavirus vaccine
ANA Therapeutics is a Silicon Valley, California-based biotech company developing a coronavirus vaccine...

ANA Therapeutics is a Silicon Valley, California-based biotech company developing a coronavirus vaccine. 

Founded earlier this year, the company has announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared its investigation into using niclosamide capsules as a potential COVID-19 treatment, allowing for human trials.

The company said it would perform the trial with 400 COVID-19 afflicted patients at 10 centres across the US. Specifically, these will be places experiencing a current surge such as Florida and Texas - with the aim being to entol the first patient in August.

The trial will assess niclosamide’s safety and its potential to alleviate symptoms. Niclosamide is a pre-existing drug chiefly used to treat tapeworm infections, but pre-clinical research conducted by the company has shown it to stop coronavirus from replicating.

The company yesterday announced a seed round raising $5mn from 11 investors, including the organisations SV Tech Ventures, SV Angel, SOSV, Refactor Capital and On Air Investments.

In a press release, ANA Co-Founder and CEO Akash Bakshi said: “Safe and effective antiviral therapies are critically needed to treat COVID-19 now and treatments will continue to be necessary even if a vaccine is developed. This will be the first U.S.- based clinical trial to determine the efficacy of niclosamide in COVID-19. Anticipating that niclosamide may prove to be effective against COVID-19, we are already laying plans to make the drug accessible to everyone.”

The company said that if proven to work, niclosamide had other benefits including being well tolerated and low-cost.

“As a start-up and unlike large life science companies, ANA Therapeutics has already moved at lightning speed to get niclosamide into clinical trials,” said Sam Altman, former president of Y Combinator and now the CEO of OpenAI. “I’m thrilled to invest in the team’s critically important mission to develop a safe, effective, and widely available treatment for COVID-19.”

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May 19, 2021

Vaccine rollout spurring dark net activity, McAfee finds

2 min
Research by McAfee has found illegal sales of fake COVID-19 vaccines and tests on the dark net

A report by security software company McAfee has found a huge rise in the availability and demand for illegal COVID-19 vaccines. 

The research by McAfee Advanced Threat Research found evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are currently available on at least a dozen dark net marketplaces. Vaccines allegedly made by Pfizer-BioNTech are being sold for $600 to $2,500 per dose, with vendors using channels such as Wickr, Telegram, WhatsApp and Gmail to advertise and communicate. 

Some of the supposed vaccines are imported from the US, while others are packed in the UK and shipped all over the world, according to the listings.

Moderna vaccines, potentially fraudulent antibody tests and fake vaccine cards are also being increasingly sold on the dark web, on at least 10 different underground markets. 

Anne An, senior security researcher at McAfee’s Advanced Programs Group, told us that with the increased global demand for COVID-19 vaccinations, the demand for illegal vaccines, fake test results and vaccination record cards has also grown. "Consumers who are buying these items pose a serious threat to public health and spur the underground economy" she said. 

"Opportunistic cybercriminals capitalise on public interest in obtaining a COVID-19 immunity passport. These bad actors can also benefit by reselling the names, dates of birth, home addresses, contact details and other personally indefinable information of their customers." 

As well as cyber security measures, An says education is necessary to stem the rise in these illegal sales. "Dark net selling of illegal COVID-19 vaccinations, fake test results and vaccination record cards is both a cybersecurity issue and an educational issue.

"On the one hand, channels being used as a means of business have the responsibility to monitor and mitigate cybercriminal activity on their platforms. On the other, the ongoing efforts of government and medical officials to provide factual information on COVID-19 and vaccinations is critical to discouraging the demand for fraudulent alternatives."  

Read McAfee's report Fool’s Gold”: Questionable Vaccines, Bogus Results, and Forged Cards

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