UK-based biotech company ILC Therapeutics has announced the successful completion of a £3.5m pre-IPO funding round.

In a statement, ILC Therapeutics – which is focused on the discovery and development of a new class of interferon drugs – said it will use the funds raised to advance its lead hybrid interferon drug candidate Alfacyte.

Alfacyte is in development as an inhaled medicine for the treatment of respiratory viral infections (RVIs), including SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

ILC’s hybrid interferons are designed by identifying selected favourable attributes of naturally occurring interferon subtypes, combining these to create a new potential class of novel hybrid drugs.

According to ILC, in vitro testing has demonstrated that Alfacyte has greater antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 cell culture compared to ‘any other’ available interferon.

“We are living through the most rapidly evolving viral environment the world has seen. Catalysed by the global COVID-19 crisis, governments and markets alike are recognising the critical need for effective and safe antiviral medicines, both to meet the immediate challenges of today and the inevitable new threats of tomorrow,” said Alan Walker, chief executive officer of ILC.

“ILC Therapeutics hybrid interferon platform technology is well positioned to address these needs and Alfacyte, our lead candidate, has the potential to become an important antiviral treatment in the ongoing global fight against Covid-19, and future pandemic threats,” he added.

“With this funding in place, [ILC Therapeutics] is now well positioned to strengthen its novel technology platform and to advance its lead candidate, Alfacyte through IND enabling studies in preparation for clinical trials as an anti-viral therapeutic for COVID-19,” commented Peter Bains, chairman of ILC.