NanoViricides, Inc. (OTC BB: NNVC.OB) (the "Company"), reported today that on-going negotiations with a large pharmaceutical company have now progressed to an advanced stage. The pharmaceutical company initially plans to evaluate NanoViricides's drug candidate for effectiveness against external ophthalmic diseases caused by two different virus types, namely herpes simplex virus (HSV) and adenovirus. These evaluations will be performed by an independent research institute that specializes in diseases of the eye.
HSV and some adenoviruses cause most of the cases of keratitis, a serious infection of the cornea. Importantly, HSV infection can lead to corneal scarring that may necessitate corneal transplantation. In addition, some adenoviruses cause a majority of conjunctivitis cases (“pink eye”). The remaining cases of conjunctivitis, caused by bacteria, are treatable with topical antibiotics. Currently, there are no effective treatments for viral diseases of the exterior portion of the eye.
The Company has already demonstrated strong efficacy against an adenovirus-caused external eye disease called epidemic kerato-conjunctivitis (EKC). Rapid clinical improvement in the treated animals was reported by independent researchers who tested the effects of the nanoviricides drug candidate against adenoviral EKC. Based on computer modeling, the Company believes that the broad-spectrum nature of the ligand used in this nanoviricide should enable it to be effective against HSV.
The total market for viral conjunctivitis is estimated to be in the billions of dollars. The incidence of severe herpes keratitis is estimated to be 250,000 cases per year in the USA. In Japan, where EKC is a reportable disease, it is estimated that there are at least one million cases per year. The number of cases of non-specific conjunctivitis (pink eye) is considered to be far greater, possibly into tens of millions in the US, and into hundreds of millions worldwide.
The Company will need to procure large quantities of the nanoviricides drug candidates for the upcoming studies. In order to support this production scale, TheraCour Pharma, Inc., the Company’s largest shareholder and licensor of the technology that the Company uses in its anti-viral drug development, has initiated a program to expand its laboratory facilities. TheraCour has entered into a Rule 10b5-1 trading plan to sell, over a one year period, up to 1.8 million shares of the Company’s common stock that it owns. The proceeds are to be used to pay for the necessary improvements in laboratory facilities, the purchase of analytical equipment, and the costs of intellectual property (patent) protection.
“NanoViricides will benefit from the advanced instrumentation that TheraCour plans to purchase without having to make the capital expenditure itself,” said Eugene Seymour, MD, MPH, CEO of NanoViricides, adding, “Availability of larger quantities of our drug candidates will greatly expedite our drug development for a number of different viral diseases. This should accelerate our efforts to move our drugs into the FDA approval process.”