Government of Canada invests in promising treatment that could fight COVID-19

News release

Government supports innovative treatment that could save lives and reduce strain on the medical system

December 15, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario

Canadian scientists, businesses and manufacturers are finding new ways to fight COVID-19 and save lives. The Government of Canada is investing in projects that will support Canada in the global race to find treatments for COVID-19 while building domestic capabilities to fight future pandemics.

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, today announced a contribution of up to $6.7 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) to Arch Biopartners, a Canadian clinical-stage biotechnology company that aims to advance its lead drug candidate Metablok as a treatment for organ inflammation in severe cases of COVID-19. Metablok is designed to block inflammation in the lungs, liver and kidneys, helping alleviate complications in the worst cases of COVID‑19.

This funding will help Arch Biopartners advance Metablok through Phase II clinical trials to prevent acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), acute kidney injury and other organ injuries caused by inflammation in hospitalized patients with severe cases of COVID-19. It will also help Arch Biopartners advance studies for optimal dosage; perform chemistry, manufacturing and controls to support the drug’s approval as a COVID-19 treatment; and ultimately prepare for a Phase III trial. This project will support Canada’s fight against COVID-19. Arch Biopartners has received Health Canada approval to conduct its Phase II clinical trials in Canada and is preparing to begin dosing patients in Canada.  

The Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Therapeutics Task Force, composed of some of Canada’s leading scientific and industry experts, reviewed the proposal and provided its recommendation to inform the funding decision. 

This contribution is part of Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Science to fight COVID-19, which was introduced on March 23, 2020, with additional measures announced on April 23, 2020. The plan includes significant investments in Canada’s world-class research community to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID‑19 and to diagnose the disease. These investments in research, combined with investments in innovation and manufacturing capacity, will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and, ultimately, facilitate our return to work and economic recovery.

Through this investment, the Government of Canada is contributing to breakthrough technology, efforts to advance the development of a treatment for COVID-19, and the commercialization of a made-in-Canada solution.


“As the world works toward an effective COVID-19 vaccine, we cannot lose sight of the importance of developing treatments to keep those stricken with the virus alive. Today’s contribution will support Arch Biopartners in taking its promising treatment through clinical trials and subsequent approvals. Once approved, this drug has the potential to be an important tool to save lives, improve long-term health and reduce the strain on Canada’s medical system. Investments like these help not only protect and support Canadians through this pandemic but also lay the foundation for a better-prepared, healthier and more prosperous future.”
 – The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“This contribution from SIF will help accelerate our drug program focused on preventing inflammation in the lungs, kidneys and liver. Organ inflammation is currently an unmet need in the medical world and is a predictor of critical illness and mortality in COVID-19. A new medical treatment to block acute organ inflammation is urgently needed to improve patient outcomes and improve mortality rates. We look forward to working with the Government of Canada to develop a new drug treatment to improve the current standard of care for hospitalized COVID patients.”

– Richard Muruve, Chief Executive Officer, Arch Biopartners

Quick facts

  • Arch Biopartners Inc., founded in 2010, is a Canadian clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the development of innovative technologies with the potential to make medical or commercial impacts. Arch works closely with the scientific community, universities and research institutions to advance and build the value of select preclinical technologies.

  • Metablok, also known as LSALT peptide, is a drug candidate invented at the University of Calgary by a team of Canadian researchers led by Arch co-founders Dr. Stephen Robbins and Dr. Donna Senger.

  • Arch Biopartners has received approval from Health Canada, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Turkey’s Ministry of Health to conduct Phase II clinical trials, and it has begun dosing patients in Turkey and the U.S. Dosing in Canada will begin shortly.

  • This SIF investment will help support an $8.9-million project and will help create and maintain at least 5 highly skilled jobs in Canada and support employment within the Canadian drug development ecosystem.

  • The SIF contribution to Arch Biopartners is funded under the Plan to Mobilize Science to fight COVID‑19.

  • The COVID-19 Therapeutics Task Force provides expert advice to the Government of Canada on COVID-19 therapeutics, assessing and prioritizing COVID-19 therapeutic projects that are seeking government support.

  • This contribution is also part of a larger strategy that the Government of Canada is implementing to protect Canadians against COVID-19. This strategy prioritizes the health and safety of Canadians, ensures the capacity of our health care system, and mitigates the pandemic’s economic impacts on Canadians and Canadian business.

Associated links


John Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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