Sydney-based Biotron (ASX:BIT) has contracted specialist laboratory US-based ImQuest BioSciences to test the activity of specific company compounds against Zika virus.
Recent international news has focused attention on a number of debilitating and life threatening viruses such as Ebola, MERS-CoV, and Zika, each of which are known to have viroporins - a group of proteins that participate in several viral functions including the promotion of release of viral particles from cells - as a part of their infection regime.
Since 2001 Biotron has been progressing the development of a unique anti-viral platform technology developing drugs that target these viral-encoded viroporins.
While Biotron’s commercial focus is on the development of its anti-Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and anti HIV-1 drug, BIT225, research has been ongoing against a number of other viroporin-containing viruses.
Biotron has developed a library of viroporin-targeting compounds. Screening has shown that the library contains compounds active against HCV (all genotypes), HIV-1, Dengue, coronaviruses including SARS, Influenza A and others.
Dr Michelle Miller, Managing Director of Biotron said: “There has been increasing interest in Biotron’s broad antiviral platform. This first round of screening is a starting point for Biotron’s Zika program, noting that additional compounds may need to be screened, or additional chemistry undertaken to design compounds with targeted activity against this virus.”
Zika virus is similar to Dengue Fever, against which Biotron has several compounds with promising antiviral activity. It is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of certain infected mosquitoes commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical regions including north Queensland and some areas in central Queensland.
Biotron’s lead drug, BIT225, has shown promising efficacy against HCV and HIV-1, and has been tested in more than 200 healthy volunteers and patients. A Phase 2 HIV-1 trial is anticipated to commence mid-2016.