Fighting dangerous viruses with a harmless virus…
Functional cure of hepatitis B virus (HBV) during a finite treatment course with a non-pathogenic ds RNA virus
HepC – Superinfection is focused on unmet medical needs of viral hepatitis B and C patients (HBV/HCV).
NUCs cannot provide a functional cure in close to 250 million chronic HBV patients because a covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) episome can persist in a latent state for decades in infected cells as a reservoir for HBV reactivation in any individuals who have been infected with the virus. Therefore, life-long treatment is required, which is associated with risks of adverse reactions, drug resistance, nonadherence, and increased cost. Since the carcinogenic HBV DNA cannot be eliminated from the hepatocytes, at least 10% of the global HBV patient population (25 million people) will die of hepatocellular cancer (HCC) over the coming 15 years.
DAA treatment of HCV could lead to temporal immunosuppression that reactivates HBV infection in millions of co-infected patients. The risk of HBV reactivation is very high (probably 30%-50%). Therefore, the FDA issued a black box warning that all patients who are being treated with DAA agents for HCV infection must undergo HBV panel testing.
HepC – Superinfection developed a radically new platform technology, the so-called HepC – Superinfection Therapy (SIT). SIT extinguishes viral replication of other viruses during a finite course of treatment by the activation of innate interferon-dependent antiviral pathways. Since, interferon is active against most vertebrate-infecting viruses SIT would not reactivate HBV in coinfected patients.
A conventionally produced version of our drug candidate has already been clinically validated in patients infected with two completely different hepatitis viruses (HBV[DNA] and HCV[RNA]. SIT, therefore, can be considered as a low risk for high return investment in a market, which is valued at USD 3 billion and has the second largest revenue share owing to the high prevalence of HBV.
The world is not ready for the next pandemic. Since our drug candidate is easy-to-produce and store, SIT platform technology could mitigate the death toll of the next flu pandemic by an unconventional viral interference strategy, which aims to complement the development of universal prophylactic flu vaccines.