Baton Rouge native Darnisha Harrison, founder and CEO of Ennaid Therapeutics, is advancing the development of an antiviral drug that may potentially fight coronavirus cases, and which would be more easily administered to those afflicted by the disease.
Harrison’s Georgia-based pharmaceutical company filed a patent for a therapeutic called ENU200 that could treat as much as 80 percent of asymptomatic, mild to moderate COVID-19 infections.
“Our science strongly suggests that ENU200, a repurposed drug with a well-established clinical and safety profile, has the potential to be a broad solution to address the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Harrison in a statement from the company. “Unlike other COVID-19 drugs in development, which must be administered via injection or intravenously under the care of a physician, ENU200 can be administered orally, thus enabling in-home treatment for COVID-19 infections.”
Harris graduated from Baton Rouge Magnet High School and LSU before moving to Georgia. She began the company researching therapeutics for zika, dengue, chikungunya virus, and hepatitis C viruses. Today, the research team at Ennaid has developed a pipeline of about 10 drugs. “When no one paid much attention to these viruses, we certainly did,” Harrison said. In 2014, she was featured in Newsweek as one of 13 Entrepreneurs to bet on.
ENU200 had been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a different purpose and is no longer prescribed, but scientific modeling shows that it can deliver antiviral activity to the proteins that make up coronavirus. “We focus on finding that early science that can be beneficial,” she told interviewers at ISNDT in 2016.
Harrison said they are hoping the FDA will fast track the drug through its emergency process and will run a clinical trial before bringing it to market.
According to the corporate website, Ennaid Therapeutics “brings innovative cures to rare and seemingly incurable diseases, thus improving the health and saving the lives of humans and animals all over the world.”