Monthly Archives: April 2020

COVID-19 – What can be done to beat this global pandemic?

As all countries scramble to try and “flatten the curve” as COVID-19 advances, the Healthcare communities struggle to keep up with the onslaught.
Will it be worse than the “Spanish Flu” of 1918, well described in John M Barry’s book “The Great Influenza”? We don’t yet know but it is already by far the worst healthcare crisis in living memory.
What is certain is that this catastrophic emergence of a novel virus as the globe becomes more crowded was always inevitable. Viruses are adaptable and when different species of animals are in close proximity to humans the opportunity for a virus to jump species and transmit to humans is present but has until now largely been overlooked. But it is not new. ”Swine Flu” (H1N1) jumped from pigs to humans; “Bird Flu” (H5N1) jumped from birds; Ebola, and possibly Marburg, jumped from bats. In all these cases the viruses were harmless to their animal hosts – but in all cases serious to potentially deadly once transferred to humans.

Read more about the antiviral therapeutic oligomers (“gene patches”) that were built more than 10 years ago, in Defy Your DNA (chapter 6). At the request of the US Department of Defense gene patches were built against:

H1N1 Influenza
Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever
Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever
Junin
Dengue Fever

Whatever happened to these emerging therapeutics? Several made it into clinical studies, some funded by US Dept of Defense grants. However working with the US government turned out to be challenging when the Government shut down and all funding was halted. Alas, I do not know what happened to these promising candidates or the technology underpinning them. AVI BioPharma became Sarepta Therapeutics and they had to prioritize focus on their many programs in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Here are some press releases about those antiviral programs:

From 2009:
H1N1 funding from US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA):
Ebola and Marburg fevers: https://investorrelations.sarepta.com/news-releases/news-release-details/avi-biopharma-inc-demonstrates-effectiveness-immune-control-rna
Ebola, Marburg and Junin Virus infections: DTRA Transformational Medical Technologies Initiative (TMTI) grant: https://investorrelations.sarepta.com/news-releases/news-release-details/avi-biopharma-receives-expanded-contract-us-department-defense

From 2010:
TMTI response to the threat of Swine Flu (H1N1): https://investorrelations.sarepta.com/static-files/dfe0ff7c-79d6-4111-bfcf-06d6a00fae41
AVI contract with DTRA to build stocks of Therapeutic Oligomer against pandemic swine flu: https://investorrelations.sarepta.com/news-releases/news-release-details/avi-biopharma-discloses-new-contract-us-government-18-million
The TMT programs for Ebola and Marburg: https://investorrelations.sarepta.com/news-releases/news-release-details/avi-biopharma-discloses-new-contract-us-government-potential
Promising data from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) against Ebola and Marburg viruses: https://investorrelations.sarepta.com/news-releases/news-release-details/nature-medicine-publishes-avi-biopharma-preclinical-studies
And promising data against swine flu: https://investorrelations.sarepta.com/news-releases/news-release-details/avi-biopharma-announces-positive-results-against-human-pandemic

From 2011:
Developing the Oligomer for Dengue in 11 days: https://investorrelations.sarepta.com/news-releases/news-release-details/avi-biopharma-and-us-department-defense-successfully-complete
Starting the clinical safety studies (I designed) against Ebola and Marburg: https://investorrelations.sarepta.com/news-releases/news-release-details/avi-biopharma-initiates-clinical-studies-two-rna-based

From 2012:
Promising clinical safety in humans for the Ebola and Marburg Oligomers: https://investorrelations.sarepta.com/news-releases/news-release-details/results-phase-i-clinical-trials-demonstrate-positive-safety-data
US Government pull the funding for the Ebola program due to “funding constraints”: https://investorrelations.sarepta.com/news-releases/news-release-details/sarepta-therapeutics-receives-notice-department-defense
But Sarepta entered into a partnership with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (where Dr Anthony Fauci is now Director) for a Influenza A treatment (of which H1N1 is an example): https://investorrelations.sarepta.com/news-releases/news-release-details/sarepta-therapeutics-enters-clinical-trial-agreement-national

From 2013:
Progress in the Marburg program: https://investorrelations.sarepta.com/news-releases/news-release-details/sarepta-therapeutics-enters-clinical-trial-agreement-national
Favorable safety of the Flu Oligomer: https://investorrelations.sarepta.com/news-releases/news-release-details/sarepta-therapeutics-announces-favorable-safety-results-phase-i
Publication of the results of clinical testing with Ebola and Marburg Oligomers: http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AAC.03442-14

From 2015:
Another clinical study reports on the Marburg program: https://investorrelations.sarepta.com/news-releases/news-release-details/sarepta-therapeutics-announces-new-england-journal-medicine

But nothing since 2015 as Sarepta concentrate on their many programs in the devastating neuromuscular disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy.