Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Plans For NanoTech To Replace Antibodies To Fight Bird Flu

The nanobiotechnology industry is setting it sights on H5N1 as a future market for a new generation of vaccines.

The claims made in this press release are remarkable, and sound pretty well absurd. At least, they're absurd until they've been scientifically, conclusively proven, and that's a long way off.

In short, NanoViricides Inc, according to this press release, claim have come up with something better than human-produced antibodies. That is, they are claiming the antibodies that attack and destroy foreign invaders, like flu viruses, in the human body are close to being superseded by nanotechnology.

Remember, this is a press release, aiming to sell the idea of what they're working, and to prepare the public to accept the idea that what the human body produces to protect itself is not enough when it comes to bird flu, even if it's not true.

For the biotech and nanobiotech industries, the H5N1 virus is the biggest and most profitable potential new market to come along since the HIV virus.

The press release (excerpts) :

Just like antibodies, nanoviricides have ligands that attach to the virus particle. However, unlike antibodies, nanoviricides complete the task of taking the virus apart. This is clearly visible in our electron microscopy (EM) studies, said Anil R. Diwan, Ph.D., President of the Company.

We feel that nanoviricides are the next great advance beyond immunotherapeutics, (use of antibodies and gamma-globulins as treatments for diseases), explained Dr. Eugene Seymour, MD, MPH, adding, We have already shown that nanoviricides are superior to FDA approved antibodies in a rabies animal model. This has validated our approach as being the next evolutionary therapeutics platform after antibodies.

Nanoviricides do not suffer from the major problems of antibodies and of vaccines as antiviral strategies, said Dr. Diwan. Antibodies are relatively specific to a particular virus strain or subtype. It is well known that HIV and influenza viruses among many others, quickly escape antibodies. Vaccines depend upon the development of antibodies by the host, and thus, cannot protect efficiently against such changed viruses, as evidenced for influenzas.

FluCide-I is a broad-spectrum nanoviricide drug candidate based on a well-known ligand to which influenza viruses of all types must bind and cannot escape. Many other viruses and virus families also bind to this ligand and FluCide-I is expected to work against such viruses as well.

FluCide-HP is a broad-spectrum nanoviricide drug candidate based on well known signature regions called polybasic sites on all HPAI influenzas including H5N1 and H7N3. If the virus mutates in this region to escape FluCide-HP, its pathogenicity will decrease and it will no longer be a dangerous epidemic threat. FluCide-HP has also shown very high efficacy against the unrelated rabies virus, which possesses similar signature regions.

Our next step will be to perform animal studies against H5N1 to further validate our results, said Dr. Seymour, adding, There have been delays in the commissioning of the BSL3+ animal facility in Vietnam. We are currently exploring other options that would permit the studies to be done in the US with the latest available H5N1 strain.

You will probably see a targeted marketing push in the next few months focused around the idea that nanobiotech, or nanoviricides in particular, can do things that our evolved-through-
millions-of-years antibodies can't.

For now, I remain vastly skeptical.


Anonymous said...

Well, I'm glad Jonas Salk wasn't so impressed with the millions of years it took the polio virus to form.

Achoo said...

Yeah, exactly.

The potential bird flu market is so huge for Big Pharma. Unlike AIDS, you only have to breathe in to catch it when it's at pandemic strength.

What's a worldwide market for bird flu vaccines worth when the death toll goes from 200 to 2 million?

Must be in the trillions of dollars, if every country in the world wanted to buy vaccines.