NanoViricides, Inc., reported today that they are on course with the development of nanoviricides™ drug candidates against highly pathogenic avian influenzas (HPAI) including H5N1 bird flu, and common influenza. “We are now ready to begin animal studies on H5N1 at a renowned federal agency," said Dr. Eugene Seymour, MD, MPH, CEO of the Company. Earlier, the Company had delayed these studies in search of suitable facilities. The work is expected to begin once the contracts are finalized.
Bird Flu H5N1 continues to spread over ever-widening geographic regions and is a major cause of concern for potential pandemic influenza, according to the WHO. This year so far bird flu has spread into six districts in West Bengal, India, causing 120,000 birds to be culled in just 5 days, and 194,000 people to be screened for bird-flu-like symptoms, reports Times of India on January 21, 2008. A boy died of bird flu in Indonesia, and the H5N1 virus was found as far away as a Ukrainian village of Rivne and also northern part of Iran, reports Voice of America. Various research articles have appeared which make researchers fear the virus could mutate and become significantly transmissible between humans.
There are currently no effective treatments against H5N1, or the class of pandemic threatening viruses called HPAI. “The broad-spectrum FluCide™, and the HPAI-specific FluCide-HP™, are designed using the virus’s host cell-binding features that do not change even when the virus mutates,” says Anil R. Diwan, Ph.D., President of the Company. This feature would potentially make these two drugs the best current treatment options for development, says the Company. Vaccines and Antibodies could lose effectiveness due to mutations. H5N1 resistance to Tamiflu® is well known, and resistance against other existing same-class (neuraminidase inhibitor) drugs such as peramivir and possibly Relenza® could occur due to virus mutations.