Viral Genetics has identified two key peptides involved in its thymus nuclear protein or "TNP" technology currently under development for the treatment of HIV/AIDS.
The active components of VGV-1, Viral Genetics' lead drug candidate based on TNP, were discovered by independent research laboratories and additional studies to confirm these findings are currently underway.
The compounds identified include two classes of peptides (small protein fragments) that occur naturally in a variety of mammals, including humans. While both have been studied and reported in the scientific literature predominantly as markers, their therapeutic uses have not been actively pursued to date.
In published studies, one of the peptides has been characterized as an immune modulator, possibly possessing natural antiviral and anti-infective properties. Researchers have also identified an association between levels of this peptide and certain viral infections and cancers.
"From a scientific perspective, this may be a very important discovery for Viral Genetics and, if confirmed, could shed insight into our understanding of TNP and VGV-1. By having the active components isolated, we should be able to identify the mechanism of action and determine optimal dose. These are critical requirements in the process of improving the antiviral effects of the product and moving towards US clinical trials," said Dr. Eric Rosenberg, Chairman of the Company's scientific advisory board and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
"While these results are preliminary and we are working rapidly to confirm them, this is a significant milestone for Viral Genetics and could greatly accelerate our development efforts in the United States and worldwide. Our hope is that the broad body of existing knowledge on the active compounds in the literature may also enhance our drug development pipeline," said Haig Keledjian, president and CEO of Viral Genetics, Inc.
In recent studies, a reduction of HIV viral load was observed in a subset of patients after treatment with VGV-1 versus patients receiving placebo. As reported in the Company's poster presentation at the 2006 XVI International AIDS Conference, VGV-1 treated subjects also demonstrated apparent beneficial immunological changes when compared with placebo.
The World Health Organization estimates approximately 40 million people are now living with HIV. Even with the available treatments for AIDS, there are large numbers of people that need alternative therapies and hope remains that progress will be made in discovering new therapies that bolster patients' immune systems.
VGV-1 is a therapy based on thymus nuclear protein which is extracted from bovine thymus tissue. As a type of immune-based therapy, it focuses on boosting the immune system to allow the body to fight HIV more efficiently. Thymus nuclear protein technology has been studied in five human clinical trials for the treatment of HIV infection and AIDS.