FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

SIGA picks lead candidate for dengue fever antiviral program

SIGA Technologies, Inc., a pharmaceutical company developing drug candidates to prevent and treat lethal pathogens, recently announced the selection of a lead candidate for its dengue fever antiviral program.

Dengue fever is an acute febrile disease with symptoms including a sudden onset of fever and a very high internal body temperature. The virus that causes the fever can come in one of four closely related serotypes. Dennis Hruby, SIGA's chief scientific officer, said the company's new lead candidate appears to have a novel mechanism of action against all four dengue virus serotypes.

"Identifying a lead candidate is an early but crucial step in a long journey to develop a dengue fever drug," Dennis Hruby, SIGA's chief scientific officer, said. "Our new, orally bioavailable lead candidate compound appears to have a novel mechanism of action against all four serotypes of dengue virus in vitro at the nanomolar level, and to demonstrate efficacy in mouse models. Having selected a lead preclinical candidate compound, we intend to start scale-up and formulation work as we pursue investigational new drug-enabling studies."

Dengue virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can be found in tropical and sub-tropical regions throughout the world. The World Health Organization estimates that 40 percent of the world's population is at risk for dengue fever, dengue hemorrhagic fever syndrome and dengue shock syndrome.

"Tens of millions of people around the world contract some form of dengue fever each year, and the geographic reach of the disease appears to be expanding," Eric Rose, SIGA's CEO, said. "Even the United States is not immune, with cases documented in three states over the last decade. Ultimately, we believe our work could benefit millions of people, including those living in regions where dengue is endemic, travelers to those regions, and commercial or military personnel deployed in those areas. The recent outbreaks of dengue fever in Africa and Asia underscore the need for an effective antiviral to treat this debilitating disease."

There are currently no approved vaccines or antivirals for the prevention or treatment of dengue fever.