NanoViricides, Inc., a nanomedicine company developing anti-viral drugs, announced today that it has executed a CRADA (Collaborative Research and Development Agreement for Material Transfer) with the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID).
Certain novel anti-Ebola nanomedicine drug candidates recently developed by the Company will be evaluated by USAMRIID scientists in their BSL-4 facilities for activity against the deadly Ebola virus under this agreement.
“We are very happy to restart our collaboration with USAMRIID for developing an effective drug against the deadly Ebola virus,” said Dr. Eugene Seymour, MD, MPH, CEO of NanoViricides, Inc., adding, “We intend to ship the samples as soon as the synthesis of the new drug candidates is completed.”
The current Ebola epidemic that began in West Africa around December 2013-February 2014, has started producing sporadic cases elsewhere in the world. All of these cases have originated with people that have been to the epidemic-affected regions. However, local transmission has occurred in health care workers in the USA as well as in Spain. This epidemic continues to expand both geographically and numerically, exponentially, and containment efforts have had a very limited impact to date. More than 4,500 deaths have been reported, with a case fatality rate estimated at about 70%. As important as control measures are to limit the disease spread, a therapeutic drug is absolutely needed to effectively contain such a rapidly spreading epidemic.
There are currently no effective drugs or vaccines available for combating Ebola virus infection. The few cases of successful treatment with potential drug candidates had also received serum from survivors.
NanoViricides undertook the extreme challenge of developing a drug to combat this disease in a “war-like” timeline. We believe that we can develop an effective drug rapidly compared to other approaches, because of the inherent strength of our nanoviricides® platform technology.
The Company has recently developed and is now synthesizing test quantities of its novel nanoviricide drug candidates against Ebola that it believes could lead to a successful therapeutic. These drug candidates are designed to mimic the host cell receptor onto which the Ebola virus binds to cause an infection. The site at which the virus binds does not change, in spite of mutations. Thus the Company believes that its drug candidates would continue to work in spite of field mutations in the virus. This is unlike vaccines, antibodies, siRNA, antisense, and several other therapeutic modes, which a virus can readily overcome due to mutations it acquires in the field.
“We are using scalable processes so that we can rapidly transfer synthesis to kg-scale production, which we believe will be sufficient to contain the spread of the current Ebola epidemic,” said Anil R. Diwan, PhD, President and Chairman of the Company, adding, “We believe that the collaboration with USAMRIID will enable timely testing of our candidates in an effort to rapidly zero in on a final drug candidate against Ebola.”
The current outbreak in Africa has unequivocally demonstrated the need for an effective, broad-spectrum, anti-Ebola therapeutic. The Company has previously reported that it has restarted its anti-Ebola/Marburg drug program, in consideration of the severe public health impact of an Ebola virus epidemic.
The Company had previously developed anti-Ebola drug candidates that demonstrated the validity and potential of the Company’s approach, based on cell culture and animal testing conducted at (USAMRIID) in a BSL-4 facility. The Company had to de-prioritize further development of anti-Ebola drug candidates in order to focus on the development of its lead drug candidate, Injectable FluCide™, being developed for the treatment of hospitalized patients with influenza.