'Pharma bro' Martin Shkreli asked a federal judge on Wednesday to release him from prison so he can help find a cure for the global pandemic that has infected more than 2.6 million and claimed over 180,000 lives.

Lawyers representing Shrkeli asked for early prison release, saying their client "has been conducting significant research into developing molecules to inhibit the coronavirus" and would continue doing so until he finds a cure for COVID-19 if set free, as reported by NBC News.

In Wednesday's filing, Shkreli's legal representatives also noted that while his work on finding a cure for COVID-19 is "at a preliminary stage," he's a "skilled medical researcher" who has dedicated "his life's work to the life sciences and rare disease community."

Martin Shkreli
Martin Shkreli. Wikimedia Commons

The documents, filed in the US District Court in Brooklyn, New York, also state that Shkreli suffers from asthma and allergies which make him susceptible to getting infected with the coronavirus if he remains in prison. His lawyers asked in the filing that he be allowed to serve the rest of his prison sentence under house arrest.

Most-hated man in America

Shkreli is serving a seven-year sentence at a federal prison in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, and is scheduled for release in October 2023. The former biotech CEO and hedge fund manager was convicted in 2017 of securities fraud for lying to investors in his hedge funds and manipulating shares in Retrophin Inc, a company he founded.

He earned the title of the "most hated man in America" in 2015 after intentionally jacking up the price of a drug used to treat a life-threatening parasitic infection. The 37-year-old was vilified for increasing the price of daraprim, a previously cheap drug used to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be fatal to people with the AIDS virus or other immune system disorders.

As Shkreli tries to redeem himself with the promise of a cure for the coronavirus, researchers are struggling to find an effective vaccine to combat the deadly pathogen and have said one could be ready by mid-2021. In the meantime, medical scientists are examining possible cures like blood plasma transfusions and remdesivir, an antiviral drug.