NanoViricides, Inc. (OTC BB: NNVC.OB) (the "Company"), reports that it has signed a research and development agreement with Dr. Eva Harris's laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley).
Under this agreement, Dr. Harris and coworkers will evaluate the effectiveness of nanoviricides® drug candidates against various dengue viruses. Cell culture models as well as in vivo animal studies will be employed for testing the drug candidates.
The Company believes that a nanoviricide drug under development can be expected to be a broad-spectrum anti-dengue antiviral treatment capable of attacking all four dengue virus serotypes and their variant strains. Currently there are no approved vaccines for the prevention of dengue, nor drugs for treatment of dengue virus infection. The worldwide market size for an effective anti-dengue treatment may be as large as that for Hepatitis C virus treatment, or in the billions of dollars, based on current population exposure data.
Dr. Eva Harris is a Professor of Infectious Diseases at UC Berkeley. She is a leading researcher in the field of dengue. Her group has developed a unique animal model for dengue virus infection and disease that effectively emulates the pathology seen in humans. In particular, the critical problem of dengue virus infection, called “Antibody-Dependent Enhancement” (ADE), is reproduced in this animal model. When a person who was previously infected with one serotype of dengue virus is later infected by a different serotype, the antibodies produced by the immune system can lead to increased severity of the second dengue infection, instead of controlling it. ADE thus can lead to severe dengue disease or dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF).
Dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever/dengue shock syndrome are emerging as serious global health problems. Dengue is endemic in large parts of the world. It now threatens over 3 billion people world-wide or 40% of world population, and is considered a re-emerging threat in the United States. Dengue is officially considered a “neglected tropical disease” by the World Health Organization. About 50-100 million people are infected by dengue virus every year. In fact, just recently, the government of Cali, Columbia declared a dengue emergency because of the number of dengue infections and deaths. Globalization and warming climates along with changes in the ecology of the virus-carrying mosquito are accelerating the spread of the virus. Without proper treatment, DHF fatality rates can exceed 20%. (Source: WHO Dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever Fact Sheet No. 117, March 2009; http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs117/en/).
Using computer modeling, the Company has developed a library of small chemical ligands that bind to dengue virus envelope proteins. Using these ligands, a number of candidate nanoviricides that are capable of attacking the dengue virus have been developed. The Company believes that these nanoviricide drug candidates mimic the natural, common attachment function by which the four different dengue virus serotypes bind to the body’s host cells.
“We are very excited about this association with the Harris Lab,” said Dr. Eugene Seymour, MD, MPH, CEO of the Company, adding, “We will now be able to rapidly advance our anti-dengue therapeutics program.”