7 Hills Pharma CEO Cites Seniors’ Weakened Immune Systems as Challenge for COVID-19 Vaccines’ Effectiveness

​​Company’s Unique Immune Stimulant Aimed at Augmenting Vaccines to be

Highlighted in Johnson & Johnson’s Blue Knight Symposium on the Pandemic

Houston, TX (December 7, 2020) – 7 Hills Pharma, a clinical stage immunotherapy company focused on the development of drugs for treatment and prevention of cancer and infectious diseases, will be one of seven innovative startup companies showcased during a global virtual symposium Dec. 8 – 10 on Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS’ Blue Knight initiative aimed at improving preparedness and response to health security threats, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that our seniors are the most vulnerable,” said Upendra Marathi, Ph.D., MBA, President and CEO of 7 Hills Pharma. “Older folks are not only more susceptible to the coronavirus, but also other infectious diseases and cancers. The one underlying factor among the elevated risk to infectious diseases and cancers is the inability to mount an effective immune response.”

Dr. Marathi observed, “While COVID-19 emerging vaccines may provide protection for the general population, our senior citizens with multiple risk factors for COVID-19 have the highest mortality and may have limited vaccine effectiveness. 7 Hills Pharma is developing a novel immune stimulant that can be used to augment the effectiveness and expand the utility of the emerging vaccines for those most at risk.”

7 Hills Pharma announced earlier this year it was selected to participate in the Blue Knight program based on its development of 7HP349, a first-in-concept oral small molecule immune stimulant designed to improve the effectiveness of immunotherapies such as COVID-19 and influenza vaccines as well an immuno-oncology drugs.

Dr. Marathi will make a presentation of his company’s technology during the three-day virtual symposium, which will convene a global community of thought leaders, innovators and investors to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other public health threats.

7 Hills Pharma is one of seven start-ups in JLABS incubators in the U.S., Canada and Europe to be the first beneficiaries of the Blue Knight initiative, which is a collaboration between Johnson & Johnson and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a component of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The companies participating have innovative technologies that address challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. They are receiving funding and mentorship from J&J and BARDA to help advance development of their products.

7 Hills Pharma launched Phase 1 safety trials of 7HP349 in October. If successful, the company will begin Phase 2 trials in 2021 of 7HP349 in combination with COVID-19 and influenza vaccines as well as immuno-oncology drugs, such as checkpoint inhibitors, for solid tumor cancers.

About 7 Hills Pharma

7 Hills Pharma is focused on the development of novel and cost-efficient immunomodulatory agents that leverage well-known integrin biology to drive and enhance essential steps in the immune cycle. The company’s lead programs are designed to improve the effectiveness of immuno-oncology therapies including checkpoint inhibitors, vaccines, and cord blood transplantation in the treatment of cancers and infectious diseases. For more information, visit www.7hillspharma.com.

Media Contacts:

Dan Eramian
Opus Biotech Communications

Charles Craig
Opus Biotech Communications