NanoViricides has reported that Vivien Boniuk, MD, Consultant in Ophthalmology at the company, will present the successful results of certain anti-herpes nanoviricide treatments for viral acute retinal necrosis (v-ARN) at the 2017 annual meeting of the Ocular Microbiology and Immunology Group (OMIG) of the American Academy of Ophthalmology to be held in New Orleans.
The same lead candidates that the company has previously found to be highly effective against VZV in the shingles human skin patch model in Professor Moffat’s Lab at SUNY Upstate Medical Center were evaluated for efficacy in this v-ARN mouse model study.
The company has previously reported that these anti-herpes nanoviricides were found to be as much as five times more effective in suppressing viral growth as compared to acyclovir, the standard of treatment, in VZV infection, in cell culture studies. Additionally, these nanoviricides were also found to be highly effective against HSV-1 and HSV-2 in similar cell culture studies (unpublished results). These studies validate the potential broad-spectrum anti-herpesvirus nature of these candidates.
Additional successful studies on v-ARN are expected to add a fifth indication to the company’s growing portfolio of anti-herpes drug indications, further expanding the potential market. The company intends to maximize shareholder value from its broad-spectrum anti-herpes nanoviricides asset by aggressively expanding its portfolio of herpesvirus indications. The company is currently developing drugs for at least four different indications based on these broad-spectrum anti-herpes drug candidates, namely: (i) skin cream for the treatment of shingles (VZV), (ii) skin cream for the treatment of herpes labialis (HSV-1), (iii) eye drops for the treatment of herpes keratitis, a disease of the external eye (HSV-1), and (iv) skin cream for the treatment of genital herpes (HSV-2).
Importantly, the company believes that, even as the virus mutates, it is unlikely to escape a nanoviricide drug. This is because the virus continues to use the same cellular receptor to enter and infect the human cells, despite mutations. The company strives hard to design virus-binding ligands that mimic the binding of the virus to the specific receptor on the human cell.
The v-ARN mouse model study was performed in the laboratory of Professor Curtis Brandt, Collaborative Ophthalmic Research Laboratorie (CORL), at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Brandt is Professor in the Departments of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Medical Microbiology and Immunology, and Director of the Vision Research Core at the University of Wisconsin.
Several parameters of HSV-2 induced ARN in the mouse eyes were examined. These included viral load, body mass, disease rating for vitreous infiltrate, retinal tissue-level disruption, and retinal micro-histopathology, over the study time period. The results will be presented on November 10, 2017, at the OMIG meeting.
v-ARN is a disease of the retina of the eye caused by various herpes viruses that leads to severe loss of vision and blindness. The infecting agent in this study was herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2), the type of herpes virus that also causes genital herpes.
Viral acute retinal necrosis is characterized by severe ocular inflammation, retinal necrosis, and a high incidence of retinal detachment leading to visual loss and blindness. This disease is caused by members of the herpesvirus family, including, herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2), varicella zoster virus (VZV), and herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). An estimated 50,000 new and recurrent cases of viral ARN per year are reported in the United States alone.
NanoViricides believes that its broad-spectrum ligands designed using molecular modeling with certain publicly available herpes virus models are likely to be effective against HSV-1, HSV-2, as well as VZV, and possibly against the other herpesviruses as well. A nanoviricide is created by chemically connecting a number of ligands at specific sites along a “TheraCour” polymeric chain. The resulting polymers self-assemble into micelles, decorated with ligands on the outside. A virus is expected to bind to the ligands, and then get enveloped by the polymeric micelle. The virus glycoproteins may also disassemble from the virus in the process. Thus, a nanoviricide is expected to neutralize a virus particle completely. Antibodies possess only two points of contact for neutralizing the virus, and require participation of human immune response. In contrast, a nanoviricide micelle presents a copious number of virus binding sites, and is expected to be highly effective in neutralizing a virus, even without involvement of human immune response.