July 28th, 2014
The Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida (VGTI Florida) a leading non-profit biomedical research institute today announced a key milestone achievement in developing novel approaches for the prevention of mosquito-borne viral threats including chikungunya and dengue fever diseases that are currently epidemic in tropical regions of the world and now represent serious threats to the U.S. population with cases spreading across the country particularly in Florida and Texas.
VGTI Florida has filed a new patent application (U.S. Provisional Patent Application US/62/026473) covering an invention that includes potent anti-viral compounds that are strong promoters of immunity in pre-clinical studies and are able to target a broad range of viral indications including chikungunya and dengue. These new anti-viral agents invented by John Hiscott Ph.D. who serves as Director of the Viral Pathogenesis & Therapeutics Program at VGTI Florida have also demonstrated broad-spectrum activity in providing protection against pandemic influenza and virus-induced pneumonia both as stand-alone therapy and in combination experimental vaccine approaches.
According to Dr. Hiscott “Our preliminary data are highly encouraging and based on the progress we’re making at VGTI Florida I believe a viable solution is on the horizon not just for dengue and chikungunya but for a broad range of dangerous infections.” There is currently no vaccine approved for the prevention of either dengue or chikungunya and VGTI Florida is currently seeking additional funding and partnering opportunities in order to most rapidly advance Dr. Hiscott’s anti-viral drug candidates into human clinical studies.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dengue fever is potentially fatal and both dengue and chikungunya cause serious and lingering symptoms. The most common symptoms of chikungunya infection are high fever and intense joint pain and the current outbreak in the Caribbean and South America illustrates how rapidly these outbreaks can spread. With more than 350000 cases reported in 2013-2014 and cases now originating in Florida Texas and other states the U.S. population is vulnerable to this infection in any climate where mosquitos thrive.
“The advancement of promising new anti-viral therapeutics needs to be a national priority; currently no licensed vaccines are available and the U.S. has already experienced significant outbreaks of dengue fever and cases of chikungunya are on the rise especially in subtropical regions like Florida” added Dr. Hiscott.