Westlake Village biopharmaceutical company MannKind Corp. has entered a partnership with NRx pharmaceuticals to evaluate the feasibility of formulating a dry powder version of vasoactive intestinal peptide, or VIP, a substance produced by the human body that helps to protect cells against inflammatory conditions.Called Zyesami, the powder formulation would be inhaled by patients. It has been granted fast track designation by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of critical COVID-19 patients with respiratory failure.“We continue to explore ways that our Technosphere technology can deliver unique compounds in a targeted and convenient manner for patients with serious lung diseases,” Michael Castagna, chief executive of MannKind, said in a statement. “The novel coronavirus continues to be a factor around the world, and we are just beginning to bear witness to its long-term effects on the lungs.”Open label VIP has yielded rapid recovery results for patients suffering from critical COVID-19 with respiratory failure. These results were studied under a clinical trial and within an FDA Expanded Access program.“As we continue to identify beneficial effects of VIP in treating various respiratory disorders, development of a convenient dosing method that offers stability at room temperature is key to long term success,” Jonathan Javitt, the chief executive of NRx, said in a statement.Javitt added that NRx will work with MannKind to develop the inhaled form of Zyesami as an easier, more therapeutic option for patients.MannKind will explore formulation potential at its research and manufacturing facility in Danbury, Conn. The facility has the capacity to produce more than 300 million cartridges of inhaled drug on a yearly basis.The company announced the partnership last week. Shares of MannKind (MNKD) closed Monday down 6 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $3.98 on the Nasdaq.