Dismantling viruses

NanoViricides reports two successful studies of topical antiherpes treatment in animal models

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SHELTON, Conn.— NanoViricides Inc., a development-stage nanomedicine company developing antiviral drugs, has reported successful results in two studies, showing dramatic improvements in clinical symptoms associated with herpes simplex virus infection in an animal model. The company believes that a drug that is superior to existing therapies could result in significantly expanded market size; the current market size for herpes simplex virus treatments is already larger than $2 billion annually.
Dr. Anil Diwan, co-founder of NanoViricides, sought to create a medicine that neutralizes the virus in the patient’s body and can be administered after the patient has contracted a disease. If the theory he developed in 1992 and has been working on since then is successful, there will be effective treatments for a variety of viruses. As he explained in an article by Scott Alexander in NYSE Intercontinental Exchange, “I started thinking about the interaction between viruses and cells and how we might be able to impact a virus’ life cycle.”
NanoViricides is creating special-purpose nanoviricide drug candidates designed to specifically attack enveloped virus particles and to dismantle them; nanoviricide is the company’s name for its biomimetic antiviral medicines. The company is developing drugs against a number of viral diseases including H1N1 swine flu, H5N1 bird flu, seasonal influenza, human immunodeficiency virus, oral and genital herpes, viral diseases of the eye like epidemic keratoconjunctivitis and herpes keratitis, hepatitis C, rabies, dengue fever and Ebola.
The antiviral therapeutics called nanoviricides are designed to look to the virus like the native host cell surface to which it binds. Because the binding sites for a given virus do not change despite mutations and other changes in the virus, the company believes that its drugs will be broad-spectrum and thus effective against most, if not all, strains, types or subtypes of a given virus.
The nanoviricide technology enables direct attacks at multiple points on a virus particle to render it ineffective at infecting cells. Antibodies, on the other hand, attack a virus particle at only a maximum of two attachment points per antibody. The nanoviricide simultaneously allows for attacking the rapid intracellular reproduction of the virus by incorporating one or more active pharmaceutical ingredients within the core of the nanoviricide.
In April, the company reported on studies performed in the laboratory of Dr. Ken S. Rosenthal, a leading researcher in herpes virus antiviral agents and vaccines, at Northeast Ohio Medical University, where Dr. Rosenthal is a professor emeritus. Two of the antiherpes nanoviricides reduced the morbidity and mortality of the HSV-1-infected animals that were treated. These nanoviricides also reduced virus production in cell culture. Topical dermal treatment with these nanoviricides led to almost complete survival (more than 85 percent) of the infected mice in this animal model. All untreated animals died of the disease. Further, these nanoviricides were superior to topical treatment with an acyclovir formulation that was employed as a positive control.
Recently, NanoViricides reported on studies performed by TransPharm Preclinical Solutions, a preclinical services company in Jackson, Miss. All of the nanoviricides tested improved clinical scores dramatically, with clinical presentation being arrested at redness or simply raised local lesions, and a complete absence of zosteriform spreading. All of the animals treated with nanoviricides survived the lethal HSV-1 infection challenge for the duration of the study, while untreated animals died toward the end of the study.
The nanoviricides are designed as topical treatment for the breakout of herpes sores. Some of the nanoviricides found effective in the previous study were tested in this study for the confirmation of efficacy in a dermal animal model in Balb-c mice using the same highly aggressive and neurotropic HSV-1 strain H129c, which was used previously.
“We have made substantial progress in this financial year with our new state-of-the-art, c-GMP manufacturing-capable campus, and further progress in our HerpeCide program, which is now at advanced preclinical stage, and additional strong safety data on injectable FluCide, which is in IND-enabling studies,” said Dr. Eugene Seymour, CEO of NanoViricides since 2005. “The topical HerpeCide program is developing in parallel with our injectable FluCide. The HerpeCide program is likely to move faster towards clinical trials, because of the inherent advantages in the nature of topical drug development.”

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