What happened

Shares of Sorrento Therapeutics (NASDAQ:SRNE) jumped 20% on Monday after the biopharmaceutical company said regulators greenlighted a clinical trial for Abivertinib, a novel small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor.  

So what

On May 21, 2020, Sorrento reached an exclusive license agreement with ACEA Therapeutics for Abivertinib "across all indications for all territories outside of China."

Today, the Food and Drug Administration cleared Sorrento to begin a Phase 2 trial of Abivertinib in COVID-19 patients with moderate to severe lung-related symptoms.

A person points to a green upwardly sloping line that's above a red flat line.

Image source: Getty Images.

Abivertinib has shown potent immune system modulating effects in vitro, and Sorrento believes that it could potentially help prevent the "cytokine storm" -- an overreaction of the body's immune system that causes the body to attack its own cells -- in COVID-19 patients.

Now what

Sorrento Therapeutics' Phase 2 study will test the efficacy and safety of Abivertinib in patients with moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 who are hospitalized with developing cytokine storms in their lungs.

Abivertinib is expected to be generally safe, as it has already been studied in more than 600 cancer patients, with only low-grade adverse effects reported.