NanoViricides, Inc. (the "Company"), announced today that theDengueCide evaluation contract has been renewed with Dr. Eva Harris’ Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, Division of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology.
Dr. Harris is one of the world’s leading experts in dengue. This contract renewal will allow the Company to continue its drug development program for the treatment of dengue.
There is currently neither an effective drug treatment nor a vaccine for dengue virus infection. The FDA has recently awarded orphan drug status to DengueCide and the Company is pursuing similar status with the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The orphan designation enables the Company to undertake rapid drug development following its influenza drug candidates.
“Our relationship with Dr. Harris and her colleagues is critically important to our development program for DengueCide,” said Eugene Seymour, MD, MPH, CEO of NanoViricides. Dr. Harris has an excellent mouse model of dengue virus infection and disease that the Company used previously to evaluate its anti-dengue agents. In those studies, the nanoviricides® have shown high effectiveness. In Prof. Harris’ model of dengue vascular leak, dengue virus infection of the laboratory mouse strain, AG129, is 100% fatal when the mice are untreated. In contrast, in the same study, animals treated with one of NanoViricides' anti-dengue agents achieved an unprecedented 50% survival rate.
Dengue is receiving significant international attention, as it threatens over 40% of the world population, according to the WHO. Dengue cases with significant fatality rates have started rising in tropical countries this year already, as demonstrated by reports from India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, and Colombia, among others. Dengue is endemic in Asia, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and many countries in South America. Dengue virus infections have occurred in the southern US states, including a recent outbreak in Key West and Miami. Travel leads to sporadic cases of dengue in the US.
Dengue virus, a member of the Flaviviridae family of viruses that includes West Nile and Hepatitis C viruses, is transmitted to humans via female Aedes mosquitoes. There are 4 different serotypes of dengue virus that infect humans. When a person is infected with dengue virus for the first time, the disease may not be severe, inducing fever, muscle and joint pain, and rash. When the same person is later infected by a different dengue virus serotype, a more severe disease may develop (Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever/Dengue Shock Syndrome (DHF/DSS)). This DHF/DSS may be caused by antibodies and/or cross-reactive T cells produced during the first infection. According to the WHO, fatality rates of DHF/DSS can exceed 20%.
About Dr. Eva Harris’ Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley
The Harris Laboratory in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley (http://www.berkeley.edu) has developed a multidisciplinary approach to study the molecular virology, pathogenesis, immunology, and epidemiology of dengue, the most prevalent mosquito-borne viral disease in humans. Their work addresses viral and host factors that modulate disease severity as well as immune correlates of protection. One major research focus has been the development of a mouse model to study viral tropism and pathogenesis, investigate the immune response to dengue virus infection, and evaluate candidate anti-viral therapeutics. Dr. Harris’ field work focuses on laboratory-based and epidemiological studies of dengue in endemic Latin American countries, particularly in Nicaragua, where ongoing projects include clinical and biological studies of severe dengue, a pediatric cohort study of dengue and influenza transmission in Managua, and a project on evidence-based, community-derived interventions for prevention of dengue via control of its mosquito vector.
NanoViricides is developing broad-spectrum anti-influenza drugs as part of its rich drug pipeline. The Company believes that its FluCideTM drug candidates will be effective against most if not all influenza viruses, including the H7N9 bird flu, H3N2 or H1N1 epidemic viruses, H5N1 bird flu, seasonal influenzas, as well as novel influenza viruses. This is because FluCide is based on the Company’s biomimetic technology, mimicking the natural sialic acid receptors for the influenza virus on the surface of a nanoviricide® polymeric micelle. It is important to note that all influenza viruses bind to the sialic acid receptors, even if they rapidly mutate. The FluCide drug candidates have already shown strong effectiveness against H1N1 and H3N2 influenza viruses in highly lethal animal models. The injectable FluCide drug candidates have shown 1,000X greater viral load reduction as compared to oseltamivir (Tamiflu®), the current standard of care, in a highly lethal influenza infection animal model. The Company believes that these animal model results should translate readily into humans.
NanoViricides has also developed an oral drug candidate against influenza. This oral version is also dramatically more effective than TamiFlu in the animals given a lethal influenza virus infection. This oral FluCide may be the very first nanomedicine that is effective when taken by mouth.
In addition, NanoViricides has developed drug candidates against Dengue, HIV/AIDS, Herpes, and Ocular Viral Diseases that have shown strong effectiveness in relevant animal and/or cell culture models.