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Press Release

Cellics Therapeutics Announces the Publication of Cellular Nanosponges Inhibit SARS-CoV-2 Infectivity in Nano Letters

By June 17, 2020November 4th, 2022No Comments

Cellics Therapeutics, Inc. (Cellics) announced today that results of the study that evaluates the potential benefits of macrophage and pulmonary epithelial nanosponges in neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 infectivity have been published in Nano Letters, entitled Cellular Nanosponges Inhibit SARS-CoV-2 Infectivity, based on research conducted by its founder, Liangfang Zhang, Ph.D.

As new information about COVID-19 continues to emerge almost on a daily basis, the virus has already demonstrated its ability to mutate and became more infectious, raising doubts about the viability of an effective vaccine and potential future therapies.  A therapy that is agnostic to future mutations and has the potential to address future novel viral pandemics is extremely attractive.  Treatments that target the affected host cell rather than the infectious agent may offer an opportunity to address future mutations and novel viral outbreaks.

The published study was initiated to evaluate the potential of nanosponges derived from human cells as a therapeutic for the treatment of COVID-19.  The study was a collaborative effort between the Department of NanoEngineering at the University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and the Department of Microbiology and National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Nanosponges derived from macrophages and human pulmonary epithelial cells were tested as it is understood that SARS-CoV-2 enters the cells via known receptors (ACE-2 and CD147) and maybe other unknown receptors. Macrophage and pulmonary epithelial nanosponges were incubated with SARS-CoV-2 infected cells to assess if nanosponges are able to neutralize live SARS-CoV-2 virus.  Both macrophage and pulmonary epithelial cell nanosponges demonstrated significant neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 infectivity after two hours of incubation in a concentration dependent manner.

“This data represents a validation of the nanosponge platform and our approach of identifying the affected host cell to develop nanosponges as a therapy,” said Steve Chen, MD, President and Chief Medical Officer, Cellics Therapeutics. “The nanosponge technology allows the therapy to be mutation and virulence factor agnostic, making it a potential universal anti-viral agent for future viral outbreaks.  Previous work has shown that macrophage nanosponges neutralized inflammatory cytokines, which are involved in the cytokine storms described in COVID-19 patients.  We are particularly excited with the macrophage nanosponges data as a potential therapy to neutralize both the viral activity and the downstream complications associated with COVID-19.  We look forward to further validation studies and mapping out a potential path forward to deliver this promising therapy to patients.”

Cellics holds exclusive global rights for the development and commercialization of red blood cell and white blood cell nanosponges, including macrophage nanosponges for treatment of various diseases from the University of California, San Diego.  Currently, Cellics is developing macrophage nanosponges for the treatment of sepsis.

About Nanosponge Platform Technology

Our proprietary platform technology strips cell membranes of their intracellular contents and allows us to create nanosponges from these membranes to be leveraged as a therapeutic product (Nanosponge Technology). These nanosponges are designed to counteract diverse disease pathologies by acting as biomimetic decoys to sequester and neutralize biological molecules that would otherwise attack host cells. Examples of such harmful agents include toxins, inflammatory cytokines and viruses. The cell membrane forming the outer layer of the nanosponges is selected according to the disease pathology, specifically which host cells are under attack. Nanosponges leverage the natural bioactivity of human cell membrane receptors for therapeutic efficacy. With the advantage of their small size and large quantity, nanosponges outcompete host cells in binding and sequestering biological molecules.

Product development currently emphasizes the use of nanosponges made of human red blood cell membrane and white blood cell membrane for the treatment of bacterial infections and inflammatory diseases. A similar working principle can be applied with membranes of other cell types, making nanosponges suitable for large and diverse disease areas. We have achieved proof of concept in animal models in a range of disease areas.

About Cellics

Cellics Therapeutics, Inc. (Cellics or Company) is a privately held development stage pharmaceutical company founded in 2014 by UC San Diego professor Liangfang Zhang based on his award-winning Nanosponge Technology. Cellics was created with the goal of applying the Nanosponge Technology to treat and prevent diseases.

Cellics is committed to saving lives and improving patients’ health using innovative biomimetic nanomedicines. The Company’s primary focus at this time is on autoimmune and inflammatory diseases and difficult-to-treat infectious diseases. Cellics also aims to develop best-in-class vaccines for various diseases. The Company is currently on schedule to advance its lead product candidate CTI-005 to human clinical trials for the treatment of MRSA pneumonia.

It is the passion and goal of Cellics to use advanced technology to help patients live healthier and longer lives. Visit us at

About UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

The Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California San Diego offers excellence at scale in research, education, public service, and technology transfer. The Jacobs School ranks first among all public engineering schools for research expenditures per faculty member. These entrepreneurial faculty lead teams that work across disciplines and industries to tackle the toughest challenges that no lab, department or company can handle alone. At the Jacobs School of Engineering, we make bold possible. Visit us at

Forward-looking Statements

This press release contains “forward-looking statements,” as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  These statements are only predictions and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, any one of which may cause actual results to be materially different from these forward-looking statements.  These factors include, without limitation, the ability to duplicate the study results in future studies; the timing and success of our development of CTI-005, CTI-008, CTI-105, CTI-108, and other pipeline candidates; the ability to successfully scale-up our manufacturing process; the timing, costs, conduct, and outcome of our clinical study; and the indication(s) for which our pipelines may be developed. The forward-looking statements in this press release reflect the Company’s judgment as of the date of this press release. The Company disclaims any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements.  This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy nor shall there be any sale of our securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction.


Steve Chen, MD
President and Chief Medical Officer
Cellics Therapeutics, Inc.
(858) 412-6148

UC San Diego Media Contact

Ioana Patringenaru
Public Information Representative
Phone: 858-822-0899