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Agencies Expect Possible Treatments and Hope for a Coronavirus Vaccine as Soon as Three Months

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- USA News Group – The rapidly spreading Wuhan coronavirus or 2019-nCoV has set off all kinds of alerts in agencies across the globe. To help relieve fears, the NIH has announced that the testing for experimental vaccines against the SAR-like coronavirus and some treatments may begin in just three months.

The efforts to combat emerging deadly viruses, like the coronavirus, may involve research and developments using both new and existing technologies. Biotech firms on the leading edge are hard at work to offer treatments, some that may find immediate application to the virus. Analysts content these innovators may become highly valued companies. Frontrunners that may benefit directly from collaborations and new approaches include Oncolytics Biotech Inc. (NASDAQ: ONCY) (TSX: ONC), Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: INO), and TrovaGene, Inc. (NASDAQ: TROV).

One outlier in this sector, Aethlon Medical, Inc., (NASDAQ:AEMD) is a medical technology company adding solutions that can address unmet needs in health and biodefense worldwide. Aethlon Medical Inc. is developer of the patented Aethlon Hemopurifier®, a clinical-stage immunotherapeutic device that removes exosomes and life-threatening viruses from the human circulatory system. This device has wide application in treating highly infectious diseases like the HIV, Hepatitis C, Ebola and other deadly viruses. Aethlon is on a dual tract, also developing TauSome, an exosomal biomarker candidate to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy in living individuals.

The Advance of Wuhan Coronavirus

Although it is considered by some researchers as less fatal than Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, the coronavirus is already attributed with 80 deaths and believed to have infected over 2700 people worldwide.

Individuals infected with the virus have been known to exhibit symptoms that are very similar to flu including sore throat, cough, fever, and congestion of the lungs. An advance stage may also include pneumonia found in some elderly patients and individuals with existing chronic health problems.

Since antibiotics are designed to eliminate bacteria and not viruses, doctors can only treat the symptoms once presented, but have no effective treatment for the underlying disease. There are, to date, no known vaccines available to inoculate against the Wuhan coronavirus.

According to Xu Wenbo, a director at the CDC's virus institute in China, the virus had been isolated and a strain was being selected. That's good news, since the genetic information, once available, could make producing a vaccine a much faster process than compared to previous viruses like SARS and MERS.

In fact, the NIH went as far as to say that the testing for experimental vaccines against the Wuhan coronavirus may begin in just three months. That would be phase one of a clinical trial. Anthony Fauci, director, US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases within NIH, said that if they can pull it off, it will be the fastest gene sequence to initial human testing in the agency's history.

Biotech Companies on the Move to React

Biotechnology companies have been moving forward in the virus area for some time. That includes treating deadly and emerging viruses, like the 2019-nCoV. The approaches involve combing technologies and new treatments, or possibly adding existing ones. Case in point is Aethlon Medical Inc. Unveiled in 2014, Aethlon Medical is developing its Hemopurifier®– one of the most intriguing, patent-protected therapeutic devices in the world.

The Hemopurifier® is a unique blood purification device. It is a first-in-class therapeutic technology that has received two FDA Breakthrough designations over multiple therapeutic targets: viral disease and cancer.

Already, Hemopurifier® therapy has been administered to individuals infected with Hepatitis C virus (HCV), the Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and Ebola virus. The "remarkable response" to the Hemopurifier® therapy to a comatose patient (a Ugandan physician) infected with Ebola Virus and experiencing multiple organ failure, led to the accolades given the device by Time Magazine that named it as one of its Top 25 Inventions and 11 Remarkable Health Advances in 2014.

Beyond human treatment experiences, pre-clinical Hemopurifier® studies have validated the broad-spectrum capture of numerous viral threats. These include potentially life-threatening viruses including Dengue and West Nile virus, Vaccinia and Monkey pox, Chikungunya, and models for human Smallpox infection.

The device also received its FDA "Breakthrough Device" designation, pushing Hemopurifier® therapy into the spotlight role of fighting cancer in cases of chemotherapy resistance, promotion of metastasis, and immune suppression.

Still in the Early Going

The coronavirus has crossed geographic boundaries sending research facilities and biotech companies around the globe scrambling. The newly formed National Institutes of Health (NIH) is reported to be collaborating with a Boston-based company, as well as scientists from the University of Queensland in Australia, with backing from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to come up with solutions. In addition, Maryland-based Novax, which is already said to be working towards the development of a vaccine against the coronavirus known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS, is reported to be working on a similar vaccine targeting the Wuhan coronavirus.

The aggressive approach being taken by all can only contribute to a better handling of the spread of the coronavirus. However, it's important to remember that these efforts are in the early going, as is this outbreak. The early mover companies in the biotech space that could benefit from breakthroughs and the treatment of the virus-based diseases include:

Oncolytics Biotech Inc. (NASDAQ: ONCY) (TSX: ONC) is a biotech company developing an immuno-oncology virus (called pelareorep) being studied for potential combination with Opdivo® from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Roche's Tecentriq, Pfizer's & Merck KGaA's Bavencio, as well as Keytruda® from Merck & Co., Inc. The company just announced publication of an Abstract for the 2020 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco highlighting CEACAM6 as a potential prognostic biomarker candidate for pancreatic cancer.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: INO) is a late-stage biotechnology company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of DNA-based immunotherapies and vaccines to prevent and treat cancers and infectious diseases. The company just announced that announced the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has awarded Inovio a grant of up to $9 million to develop a vaccine against the recently emerged strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This initial CEPI funding will support Inovio's preclinical and clinical development through Phase 1 human testing of INO-4800, its new coronavirus vaccine matched to the outbreak strain.

TrovaGene, Inc. (NASDAQ: TROV) is a clinical-stage, oncology therapeutic company that develops drugs to treat various types of cancer, including leukemia, lymphomas, and solid tumors. The company recently announced data showing the ability of Onvansertib, its lead drug candidate (a Polo-like Kinase 1 selective adenosine triphosphate competitive inhibitor) to rescue venetoclax-resistance in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).

For a more on current developments in biotechnology and viral solutions, view the report at USA News Group:

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Last Updated: 31-Jan-2020