Research Foundation News

March 30, 2021

Startup seeks partners to advance virus therapeutics

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue University-affiliated startup is advancing the development of antiviral therapeutics in the fight against COVID-19 and other viral diseases.

Phytoption LLC, in the Purdue Research Park, has been working on the commercialization of Purdue initiated OHPP nanotechnology that significantly boosts drug solubility. A soluble niclosamide drug formulation has been developed using such technology.

Niclosamide, a drug used to treat tapeworms, has been found to have a broad-spectrum antiviral effect against many viruses including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 pandemic. But the drug itself has limited potential because its structure makes it difficult to dissolve and for patients to absorb, especially in convenient dosage forms.

The Purdue and Phytoption teams worked with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to understand key requirements to further develop soluble niclosamide drugs. They received support from the COVID-19 Early Treatment Fund and have conducted key studies with scientists at Purdue, including Thomas Sors, assistant director of the Purdue Institute of Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Disease (PI4D). 

“One of our key missions in PI4D is to connect our faculty members through our extensive research networks to accelerate the translation of their innovations,” Sors said.

The team has completed pilot studies working with the University of Chicago, and the Translational Pharmacology Facility and the Metabolomic Profiling Facility at Purdue’s Bindley Bioscience Center.

“Our oral formulation has shown outstanding bioavailability and prolonged release of niclosamide that has not been achieved by any other known technology,” said Yuan Yao, a Purdue professor of food science.

Joanne Zhang, CEO of Phytoption, said, “We are incredibly thankful for the support from the grant sources and Purdue collaborators.”

The team is looking for additional partnerships and support. For more information, email

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Writer: Chris Adam,

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