Shelton, Connecticut — March 2, 2021 — NanoViricides, Inc. (NYSE American: NNVC) (the “Company”) a leader in the development of highly effective antiviral therapies based on a novel nanomedicine technology platform, reported today on the strong pan-coronavirus effectiveness of its two COVID-19 clinical drug candidates for which the Company is preparing a pre-IND application.
NV-CoV-2 is the Company’s broad-spectrum anti-coronavirus clinical lead drug candidate for the treatment of COVID-19 patients based on its nanoviricides® platform. In addition, the Company is also developing NV-CoV-2-R, a drug treatment that combines the power of both NV-CoV-2 and remdesivir in a single drug that encapsulates and protects remdesivir inside NV-CoV-2.
Both NV-CoV-2 and NV-CoV-2-R are expected to work against most, if not all, coronaviruses and their variants, based on the Company’s findings on their pre-clinical effectiveness discussed below. NV-CoV-2-R is designed to attack both (1) the virus reinfection cycle outside cells, and (2) the virus replication cycle inside cells. NV-CoV-2-R is thus potentially a cure for COVID-19 infection by virtue of attacking the total virus lifecycle.
NV-CoV-2 and NV-CoV-2-R were found to be highly effective in comparison to remdesivir against two distinctly different coronaviruses in our new cell culture studies leading towards a pre-IND application and thereafter an IND submission for these COVID-19 drug candidates. Remdesivir is one of the most effective anti-coronavirus drugs in cell culture studies. Therefore our finding that NV-CoV-2 was highly effective and comparable to remdesivir in activity in these cell culture studies was pleasantly surprising. Even more striking was the finding that NV-CoV-2-R exceeded the effectiveness of remdesivir itself in these cell culture studies. These results indicate that NV-CoV-2 and NV-CoV-2-R could be some of the strongest weapons in the fight against coronaviruses and the current COVID-19 global pandemic.
The strong effectiveness of the three drugs NV-CoV-2, NV-CoV-2-R, and remdesivir against two unrelated coronaviruses (namely hCoV-NL63 and hCoV-229E) indicates their strong potential for treatment of coronavirus diseases including COVID-19, irrespective of variants or coronavirus types. The broad-spectrum effectiveness of the Company’s drug candidates is very important as coronavirus variants that are reported to evade antibodies, potentially causing disease in spite of vaccination, are becoming widespread as the COVID-19 global pandemic is progressing into its second year.
Remdesivir is known to be highly effective in cell culture studies against many coronaviruses as well as Ebola and other viruses. Thus NV-CoV-2-R can be expected to be at least as effective as remdesivir against all of these viruses in cell cultures. Moreover, NV-CoV-2-R would be expected to be significantly superior to remdesivir in human clinical studies, if our encapsulation process effectively protects remdesivir from bodily metabolism as is anticipated.
Remdesivir (Veklury®, Gilead) has shown relatively weak effectiveness in clinical studies in contrast to its extremely strong effectiveness in cell culture studies. Scientists have related this to the rapid metabolism of remdesivir in the blood stream causing loss of clinical effectiveness.
The Company believes that encapsulation of remdesivir into the nanoviricide NV-CoV-2 should protect it from bodily metabolism and thereby enable strong clinical effectiveness of the combined drug NV-CoV-2-R against COVID-19 variants as well as Ebola and possibly many other viruses for the treatment of infected humans.
The Company studied the effectiveness of NV-CoV-2, NV-CoV-2-R and remdesivir against two unrelated human coronaviruses: h-CoV-229E (229E), and h-CoV-NL63 (NL63). Of these NL63 uses the same ACE2 human cell receptor to gain entry into cells as do all variants of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1. Additionally, human pathology of NL63 infection closely mimics that of SARS-CoV-2, albeit with limited disease severity. NL-63 is being used as a model for anti-SARS-CoV-2 drug development in various labs including ours (see Chakraborty and Diwan for a review1). In contrast, 229E uses the cell surface receptor APN for entry rather than ACE2, and causes common colds. Thus, NL63 and 229E are unrelated human coronaviruses.
The Company intends to report on the results of these studies in its pre-IND application to the US FDA to obtain guidance regarding human clinical trials for treatment of COVID-19 patients. Additionally, the Company is actively seeking opportunities to engage appropriate sites for human clinical trials. Further, the Company is engaged in the preparation of clinical trial protocols and other activities that would be necessary for submitting an IND application to the US FDA.
The Company has developed NV-CoV-2 based on its platform nanoviricides® technology. This approach enables rapid development of new drugs against a number of different viruses. A nanoviricide is a “biomimetic” – it is designed to “look like” the cell surface to the virus. The nanoviricide technology enables direct attacks at multiple points on a virus particle. It is believed that such attacks would lead to the virus particle becoming ineffective at infecting cells. Antibodies in contrast attack a virus particle at only two attachment points per antibody.
It is anticipated that when a virus comes in contact with the nanoviricide, not only would it land on the nanoviricide surface, binding to the copious number of ligands presented there, but it would also get entrapped because the nanomicelle polymer would turn around and fuse with the virus lipid envelope, harnessing a well known biophysical phenomenon called “lipid-lipid mixing”. In a sense, a nanoviricide drug acts against viruses like a “venus-fly-trap” flower does against insects. Unlike antibodies that tag the virus and require the human immune system to take over and complete the task of dismantling the virus, a nanoviricide is a nanomachine that is designed to not only bind to the virus but also complete the task of rendering the virus particle ineffective.
In addition, the nanoviricide technology also simultaneously enables attacking the rapid intracellular reproduction of the virus by incorporating one or more active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) within the core of the nanoviricide. The nanoviricide® technology is the only technology in the world, to the best of our knowledge, that is capable of both (a) attacking extracellular virus, thereby breaking the reinfection cycle, and simultaneously (b) disrupting intracellular production of the virus, thereby enabling complete control of a virus infection.
The Company has developed NV-CoV-2-R based on this encapsulation capability that is built in its nanoviricide NV-CoV-2. The Company has chosen to encapsulate remdesivir as the participating drug for blocking the viral replication cycle. Remdesivir is approved by the US FDA for the treatment of patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Encapsulation of remdesivir in the Company’s nanoviricide envelope is expected to protect it from metabolism in the body. This protection can be expected to lead to significant enhancement in the effectiveness of remdesivir itself (in the encapsulated form), by potentially increasing both the effective remdesivir concentration and the duration of action. This could be an additional favorable effect for the Company’s anti-coronavirus drug candidate NV-CoV-2-R. Remdesivir is sponsored by Gilead. The Company is developing its drug candidates independently at present.
- A. Chakraborty and A. Diwan (2020). “NL63: A Better Surrogate Virus for studying SARS- CoV-2”. Integr Mol Med, 2020, vol.7, pp 1-9, doi: 10.15761/IMM.1000408.
NanoViricides, Inc. (the “Company”)(www.nanoviricides.com) is a development stage company that is creating special purpose nanomaterials for antiviral therapy. The Company’s novel nanoviricide® class of drug candidates are designed to specifically attack enveloped virus particles and to dismantle them. Our lead drug candidate is NV-HHV-101 with its first indication as dermal topical cream for the treatment of shingles rash. In addition, we are developing a clinical candidate for the treatment of COVID-19 disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The Company cannot project an exact date for filing an IND for this drug because of its dependence on a number of external collaborators and consultants.
The Company is now working on tasks for completing an IND application. The Company is currently pursuing two separate drug candidates for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. NV-CoV-2 is our nanoviricide drug candidate that does not encapsulate remdesivir. NV-CoV-2-R is our other drug candidate that is made up of NV-CoV-2 with remdesivir encapsulated in it. The Company believes that since remdesivir is already US FDA approved, our drug candidate encapsulating remdesivir is likely to be an approvable drug, if safety is comparable. Remdesivir is developed by Gilead. The Company has developed both of its own drug candidates NV-CoV-2 and NV-CoV-2-R independently.
The Company intends to re-engage into an IND application to the US FDA for NV-HHV-101 drug candidate for the treatment of shingles once its COVID-19 project moves into clinical trials, based on resources availability. The NV-HHV-101 program was slowed down because of the effects of recent COVID-19 restrictions, and re-prioritization for COVID-19 drug development work.
The Company is also developing drugs against a number of viral diseases including oral and genital Herpes, viral diseases of the eye including EKC and herpes keratitis, H1N1 swine flu, H5N1 bird flu, seasonal Influenza, HIV, Hepatitis C, Rabies, Dengue fever, and Ebola virus, among others. NanoViricides’ platform technology and programs are based on the TheraCour® nanomedicine technology of TheraCour, which TheraCour licenses from AllExcel. NanoViricides holds a worldwide exclusive perpetual license to this technology for several drugs with specific targeting mechanisms in perpetuity for the treatment of the following human viral diseases: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV/AIDS), Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), Rabies, Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2), Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV), Influenza and Asian Bird Flu Virus, Dengue viruses, Japanese Encephalitis virus, West Nile Virus and Ebola/Marburg viruses. The Company has executed a Memorandum of Understanding with TheraCour that provides a limited license for research and development for drugs against human coronaviruses. The Company intends to obtain a full license and has begun the process for the same. The Company’s technology is based on broad, exclusive, sub-licensable, field licenses to drugs developed in these areas from TheraCour Pharma, Inc. The Company’s business model is based on licensing technology from TheraCour Pharma Inc. for specific application verticals of specific viruses, as established at its foundation in 2005.
As is customary, the Company must state the risk factor that the path to typical drug development of any pharmaceutical product is extremely lengthy and requires substantial capital. As with any drug development efforts by any company, there can be no assurance at this time that any of the Company’s pharmaceutical candidates would show sufficient effectiveness and safety for human clinical development. Further, there can be no assurance at this time that successful results against coronavirus in our lab will lead to successful clinical trials or a successful pharmaceutical product.
This press release contains forward-looking statements that reflect the Company’s current expectation regarding future events. Actual events could differ materially and substantially from those projected herein and depend on a number of factors. Certain statements in this release, and other written or oral statements made by NanoViricides, Inc. are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements since they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which are, in some cases, beyond the Company’s control and which could, and likely will, materially affect actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements. The Company assumes no obligation to publicly update or revise these forward-looking statements for any reason, or to update the reasons actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements, even if new information becomes available in the future. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the company’s expectations include, but are not limited to, those factors that are disclosed under the heading “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in documents filed by the company from time to time with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulatory authorities. Although it is not possible to predict or identify all such factors, they may include the following: demonstration and proof of principle in preclinical trials that a nanoviricide is safe and effective; successful development of our product candidates; our ability to seek and obtain regulatory approvals, including with respect to the indications we are seeking; the successful commercialization of our product candidates; and market acceptance of our products.
FDA refers to US Food and Drug Administration. IND application refers to “Investigational New Drug” application. cGMP refers to current Good Manufacturing Practices. CMC refers to “Chemistry, Manufacture, and Controls”. CHMP refers to the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, which is the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) committee responsible for human medicines.