NanoViricides, Inc. (OTC BB: NNVC.OB) (the "Company"), development stage company that is creating special purpose nanomaterials for viral therapy, announced today that it has signed a pre-clinical study agreement for the evaluation of FluCide™, NanoViricides' universal anti-influenza drug candidate. The study will be conducted by Thevac, LLC, a spin-off of the Louisiana State University (LSU), Baton Rouge, LA. It will be performed in collaboration with the Division of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, which administers the LSU-Tulane Center for Experimental Infectious Disease Research (Director, K. G. Kousoulas, PhD).
The study will initially evaluate effectiveness of nanoviricide™ drug candidates against a virulent H1N1 strain which caused a severe outbreak in 1930. This well-characterized virus is expected to be a good surrogate for the current 2009 H1N1 influenza (“swine flu”) that is in the pre-pandemic stage according to the WHO. The study will then be expanded to include other influenza subtypes that are feared to be on the horizon, such as H3N2.
“We are very pleased to have a recognized expert like Dr. Kousoulas associated with this study,” said Eugene Seymour, MD, MPH, Chief Executive Officer of NanoViricides, Inc.
The Company has previously reported that a prior version of FluCide drug candidate was superior in its effect by a very large margin when compared to oseltamivir (Tamiflu®, Roche) in an animal study. The Company has also previously reported that the same drug candidate was highly effective in cell culture studies against two different kinds of H5N1 bird flu virus, namely Vietnam 2004 Clade I virus, and Vietnam 2006 Clade II virus. The latter is closely related to the Indonesia 2006 H5N1 virus that is currently causing human fatalities in Indonesia.
“We have significantly improved the chemistry of the anti-influenza nanoviricide, both in terms of the ligand, and in terms of the backbone polymer since those early studies,” said Anil R. Diwan, Ph.D., President of the Company, adding, “We expect the new drug candidate to be even more effective than the previous one. This improved candidate is also expected to be effective against a much broader spectrum of influenza viruses than the previous one.”
NanoViricides, Inc. believes that it is possible to design a single drug capable of attacking most if not all influenza viruses because all influenza viruses use the same cell surface receptor, called sialic acid. While sialic acid occurs in two distinct conformations, the Company believes that it has designed ligands that may be capable of mimicking both of these conformations. A nanoviricide is a cell surface mimetic, and thus is designed to trap a virus particle that is targeted by the ligand attached to the nanoviricide surface. Such trapping may be expected to lead to disassembly of the virus particle, or complete killing of the virus. This represents a substantial advance beyond immunotherapeutics, or use of antibodies to combat viral diseases.
“The NanoViricides technology appears to be very promising for treating a variety of viral diseases including influenza,” says Dr. Kousoulas. Dr. Kousoulas has been previously involved with several influenza animal studies.