Arcturus Therapeutics, the preclinical drug delivery and RNA medicines company that’s among the companies racing to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, has inked a pact with political consulting and lobbying firm Avenue Strategies to advocate on the drug developer's behalf on Capitol Hill.

Arcturus Therapeutics

The San Diego-based biotech, which specializes in discovering and commercializing therapeutics for rare diseases, has partnered with Duke-NUS Medical School to develop a vaccine to protect against COVID-19. Arcturus Therapeutics’ approach relies on a proprietary delivery technology that essentially replicates RNA, allowing the body’s immune system to fight the virus through a vaccine that can be administered at low doses.

The drug developer hopes to begin clinical trials on people sometime this year.

Arcturus Therapeutics has hired Avenue Strategies to pitch the company’s “technology and science as a potential solution to limit the spread and adverse effects of the COVID-19 virus,” according to lobbying registration documents filed in April.

Avenue Strategies is led by veteran Republican strategist Barry Bennett, who founded the D.C-based firm in 2016 along with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

Bennett was previously chief of staff to Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) and communications director to the G8 Summit under President George W. Bush. He has also founded super PACs for Rick Perry and for the Senate campaigns for Liz Cheney and Rob Portman. Prior to forming Avenue Strategies, Bennett served as a senior advisor to the Trump election campaign. Prior to that, he managed Dr. Ben Carson’s presidential run.

Lewandowski left Avenue Strategies in 2017.