NanoViricides signed an R&D agreement with the laboratory of Eva Harris, Ph.D., at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Harris and her co-workers will evaluate the effectiveness of the firm’s drug candidates against various dengue viruses.
Using computer modeling, NanoViricides has developed a library of small chemical ligands that bind to dengue virus envelope proteins. This resulted in the development of candidates that are capable of attacking the dengue virus. The company believes that these nanoviricide drug candidates mimic the natural, common attachment function by which the four different dengue virus serotypes bind to the body’s host cells.
Cell culture models as well as in vivo animal studies will be employed for testing the drug candidates. Dr. Harris’ group has developed an animal model for dengue virus infection and disease that reportedly emulates the pathology seen in humans. In particular, the critical problem of dengue virus infection, called antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), is reproduced in this animal model, according to Dr. Harris. In ADE, when a person who was previously infected with one serotype of dengue virus is later infected by a different serotype, the antibodies produced by the immune system can lead to increased severity of the second dengue infection instead of controlling it.
The Harris laboratory in the division of infectious diseases in the School of Public Health at the UC Berkeley has developed a multidisciplinary approach to study the molecular virology, pathogenesis, and epidemiology of dengue. Dr. Harris’ field work focuses on laboratory-based and epidemiological studies of dengue in endemic Latin American countries, particularly in Nicaragua, where ongoing projects include clinical and biological studies of severe dengue, a pediatric cohort study of dengue and influenza transmission in Managua, and a project on evidence-based, community-derived interventions for prevention of dengue via control of its mosquito vector.