Shelton, CT – February 8, 2021 — NanoViricides, Inc. (NYSE American: NNVC) (the “Company”) a global leader in the development of highly effective broad-spectrum antiviral therapies based on a novel nanomedicines platform has announced today that its broad-spectrum anti-coronavirus drug candidate for the treatment of COVID-19 infections was well tolerated in safety pharmacology studies required for progressing to human clinical trials.
The Company reports that its drug candidate NV-CoV-2 was found to be safe in the GLP safety pharmacology studies performed by an external contract research organization (CRO) in both rat and non-human primate (NHP) models. Additionally, multiple injections of NV-CoV-2 were also well tolerated in an extensive non-GLP study in rats that was performed by AR Biosystems, Inc., FL.
Based on the safety of NV-CoV-2 in these studies, the Company believes that projected dosages would be safe in human clinical trials. With these findings, the Company believes that it will be possible to administer repeated dosages of NV-CoV-2 in a human clinical trial, if needed, to achieve control over the coronavirus infection from SARS-CoV-2 or its variants.
In a GLP neuro-pulmonary safety pharmacology study in rats, the following conclusion was drawn: The intravenous administration of NV-CoV-2 at doses of 25, 50 and 100 mg/kg did not affect respiratory function in rats.
In a GLP cardiovascular function study in the NHP cynomolgus monkeys, the following conclusion was drawn: Intravenous infusion of NV-CoV-2 at 25, 37.5, and 50 mg/kg did not have any toxicologic effects on cardiac rhythm or ECG morphology in cynomolgus monkeys in this study. No significant effects on blood pressure and heart rate were observed after the intravenous infusion of NV-CoV-2.
These results were consistent with a more extensive, multiple injection non-GLP safety and tolerability study in Sprague-Dawley male and female rats. In this non-GLP study, NV-CoV-2 was injected intravenously (via tail vein) on each of days 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Two different doses were used: 320mg/kg BW per injection, and 160 mg/kg BW per injection. Clinical observations, body weight, urine, blood chemistry, post-mortem findings, and organ histology were studied. In all parameters, NV-CoV-2 was well tolerated at both dosages throughout the study.
The Company has received draft reports from all of these studies. We anticipate receiving final audited reports on the GLP studies shortly.
The Company is preparing to submit a pre-IND application to the US FDA with safety tolerability and effectiveness data to obtain guidance regarding human clinical trials. Additionally, we are actively seeking opportunities to engage appropriate sites for human clinical trials. Further, we are 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 need for the broad-spectrum, pan-coronavirus nanoviricide drug treatment cannot be overstated for combating the COVID-19 pandemic given the current circumstances and the present status of the pandemic. New virus variants continue to develop in the field. The variants that have advantages in terms of transmissibility, infectivity, and escape from drugs and vaccines will continue to evolve and spread, replacing prior variants. This is already well documented.
Several vaccines have been found to be substantially less effective in protecting against infection by the South African variant, N501Y-V.2 (also called lineage B.1.351) than the earlier variants. A mutation present in B.1.351 as well as Brazilian variant P.1 that is thought to be possibly linked to evasion from antibody drugs and vaccines, E484K, has also been reported in UK in a further differentiated mutant of the variant of concern lineage B.1.1.7. The available monoclonal antibody drugs and convalescent plasma antibodies have been reported to be less effective against several variants.
By the very nature of how they work, vaccines and antibodies tend to be highly specific to the target virus variant, and do not afford strong protection against differentiated variants that are evolutionary distant from the target variant. This scientific fact is now well demonstrated for the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is therefore clear that an effective broad-spectrum anti-coronavirus drug will be needed before the world can return to normal activity.
The Company previously had advanced NV-CoV-1 and had continued to work further with additional drug candidates. One of these drug candidates, namely, NV-CoV-2 was found to have several advantages over NV-CoV-1 in terms of manufacturability and dose formulation. Therefore the Company has advanced NV-CoV-2 into GLP safety/pharmacology studies.
NanoViricides is developing a broad-spectrum antiviral drug where the potential for escape of virus variants is minimized by the very design of the drug for the treatment of COVID-19 infected sick persons. In contrast, vaccines are not treatments for sick persons, and must be administered to healthy individuals, and further require several weeks for the recipient’s immune system to become capable of protecting against the target virus strain which still may not protect against new virus variants circulating by that time.
NanoViricides has a strong advantage in that the Company has its own cGMP-capable manufacturing facility in Shelton, CT. This facility is capable of producing approximately 4kg of the COVID-19 drug per batch. We anticipate that this would be sufficient for human clinical trials, and possibly for initial introduction under Compassionate Use, Emergency Use Authorization or similar regulatory approval.
“We are pleased with the results of the safety pharmacology studies, and now we are confident that our COVID-19 drug candidate can advance into human clinical trials,” said Anil R. Diwan, PhD, President and co-Founder of NanoViricides, Inc., and co-Inventor of its platform technologies and drug candidates.
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 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.