NanoViricides, Inc. (the "Company") reported today that it has designed and synthesized novel nanoviricides® drug candidates in quantities sufficient for testing in animals infected with the MERS Corona Virus.
Recently, New York Times reported that the first case of MERS infection in the United States was in stable condition. This person, a healthcare worker, flew from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Chicago, and then by bus to Indiana (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/03/health/mers-virus-found-in-united-states-for-first-time.html?_r=0). MERS is a new coronavirus similar to the SARS virus. It first appeared in 2012 in the Middle East. Since then, about 400 cases have been reported to the World Health Organization; about a third have been fatal. While it has not spread easily between humans, there have been outbreaks within families and in hospitals, where patients have infected paramedics, nurses and doctors, reported the New York Times.
Using our platform technology, NanoViricides, Inc. has already developed novel drug candidates against the MERS virus that mimic the MERS virus binding to the host cell. The Company developed ligands that are designed to bind to the MERS coronavirus spike protein, in the same fashion that the cognate receptor of the virus, DPP-IV, binds to the virus. We performed the ligand design using well established molecular modeling techniques, based on published data regarding the MERS coronavirus spike protein and DPP-IV binding. The ligands were then chemically attached to the nanomicelle base polymer, thus making the nanoviricides drug candidates against the MERS virus. The Company has already successfully scaled up the synthesis to multi-gram scale, sufficient for animal testing, and can easily scale the processes to make kilogram quantities for widespread application in human patients if they are found to be effective and safe.
“We have a very high expectation that these drug candidates will show significant effectiveness in combatting the MERS virus infection, based on our work against Influenza, HIV, HSV, and other diseases where information on the virus-host cell binding was available,” said Anil R. Diwan, PhD, President and Chairman of the Company, adding, “Further, we have already established that the several nanoviricides we currently have in development are very safe in preliminary animal studies.”
There are no known drugs or vaccines against the MERS coronavirus. No small animal models for testing MERS therapeutics were available until recently. Perlman and collaborators have recently reported a mouse model (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/03/05/1323279111.abstract). In this model, mice were infected with adenovirus carrying the DPP-IV gene to make them susceptible to the MERS virus. Both the safety and effectiveness of any drug has to be determined experimentally. The safety of a nanoviricide drug is expected to depend upon the safety of the nanomicelle portion as well as the safety of the antiviral ligand.
“The rapid development and deployment capability of our platform technology was demonstrated by how quickly we were able to create these drug candidates,” said Dr. Eugene Seymour, MD, MPH, Chief Executive Officer of the Company, explaining, “The design of a set of viable ligands was completed in merely three weeks, and the initial syntheses took another four weeks.”
NanoViricides, Inc. currently has six drug candidates in its pipeline and several research programs underway. The Company is advancing both an injectable drug and an oral drug against Influenzas in IND-enabling studies in its FluCide™ program. The injectable FluCide is being developed for the seriously ill, hospitalized patients with influenza-like illness. The oral FluCide drug is being developed for out-patient influenza cases. Both of these drugs are broad-spectrum, i.e. they are expected to work against most if not all influenza A viruses. The Company believes this is so because the virus-binding ligand in these drugs mimics sialic acid, and it is well known that all influenza viruses bind to sialic acid receptors on a cell in order to gain entry into the cell. Both of these anti-influenza drugs may also be useful for prophylaxis, as in the protection of health care workers. In addition, the Company has developed several other highly effective drug candidates. These include HIVCide™, HerpiCide™, DengueCide™, and a broad-spectrum nanoviricide eye drop formulation against viral infections of the eye. The Company’s drug programs are based on the Company’s patented “nanoviricide®” platform technology that enables specifically targeting a particular type of virus with a novel mechanism of action. In addition, the Company’s other research and development programs include (a) broad-spectrum nanoviricides against a number of Neglected Tropical Diseases, and (b) its novel ADIF™ ( “Accurate Drug In Field”™ ) technologies which promise a way to attack novel viruses, whether man-made (bioterrorism) or natural (such as MERS or SARS), before they cause a pandemic.