"Contagion Live" interviewed Dr. Robert Malone, CEO of Atheric on Repurposing Licensed Drugs for Use Against the Zika Virus (and other emerging infectious diseases)

"Contagion Live" interviewed Dr. Robert Malone, CEO of Atheric on Repurposing Licensed Drugs for Use Against the Zika Virus (and other emerging infectious diseases)

"Through this novel approach to repurposing drugs, Dr. Malone and his team propose that a “shortened pathway to potential licensure,” can be implemented by identifying already licensed drugs that could be potentially effective against the Zika virus."  - See more at: 

- See more at: http://www.contagionlive.com/news/repurposing-licensed-drugs-for-use-against-the-zika-virus

Atheric CEO Dr. Malone: Chairperson, "Repurposing Drugs" at the Zika International Conference

Atheric CEO Dr. Malone will be the Chairperson, at the Zika international Conference in DC, Feb 23-25, 2017.  The title of his session is Repurposing Drugs.  He will also be presenting a talk entitled: 
ACCELERATED DISCOVERY AND DEVELOPMENT OF RE-PURPOSED LICENSED DRUGS FOR ZIKA VIRUS OUTBREAK ANTIVIRAL PROPHYLAXIS AND THERAPY

For more information on the program, click here

Dr. Malone, CEO of Atheric Pharmaceutical, LLC is an author of the peer-reviewed Cladistics paper: "Molecular evolution of Zika virus as it crossed the Pacific to the Americas"

Molecular evolution of Zika virus

as it crossed the Pacific to the Americas

Adriano de Bernardi Schneidera , Robert W. Maloneb,c, Jun-Tao Guoa , Jane Homand , Gregorio Linchangcoa , Zachary L. Wittera , Dylan Vinesetta , Lambodhar Damodarana and Daniel A. Janiesa,*

Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte, 28223-0001, NC, USA; b Atheric Pharmaceutical, 2981 Zion Road, Troy, VA, 22974 USA; c Class of 2016, Harvard Medical School Global Clinical Scholars Research Training Program, Boston, MA, USA; d ioGenetics LLC, 3591 Anderson Street, Suite 218 Madison, WI 53704, USA Accepted 20 September 2016

Abstract Zika virus was previously considered to cause only a benign infection in humans. Studies of recent outbreaks of Zika virus in the Pacific, South America, Mexico and the Caribbean have associated the virus with severe neuropathology. Viral evolution may be one factor contributing to an apparent change in Zika disease as it spread from Southeast Asia across the Pacific to the Americas. To address this possibility, we have employed computational tools to compare the phylogeny, geography, immunology and RNA structure of Zika virus isolates from Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas. In doing so, we compare and contrast methods and results for tree search and rooting of Zika virus phylogenies. In some phylogenetic analyses we find support for the hypothesis that there is a deep common ancestor between African and Asian clades (the “Asia/Africa” hypothesis). In other phylogenetic analyses, we find that Asian lineages are descendent from African lineages (the “out of Africa” hypothesis). In addition, we identify and evaluate key mutations in viral envelope protein coding and untranslated terminal RNA regions. We find stepwise mutations that have altered both immunological motif sets and regulatory sequence elements. Both of these sets of changes distinguish viruses found in Africa from those in the emergent Asia–Pacific–Americas lineage. These findings support the working hypothesis that mutations acquired by Zika virus in the Pacific and Americas contribute to changes in pathology. These results can inform experiments required to elucidate the role of viral genetic evolution in changes in neuropathology, including microcephaly and other neurological and skeletomuscular issues in infants, and Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults.

Cladistics Cladistics (2016) 1–20 10.1111/cla.12178

Click here to go to the PDF

Dr. Malone, CEO of Atheric was featured in the "Charlottesville Tomorrow"

Charlottesville biotech firms rising to meet Zika challenges

"Several biotechnology companies in the Charlottesville area are working to combat the Zika virus.

The CvilleBioHub, a new biotech networking organization, recently hosted a forum on Zika research at Indoor Biotechnologies. Three scientist-entrepreneurs gave presentations on their work to an audience of about 40, most of whom were affiliated with the biotech industry.

Zika can manifest itself as a mild disease with flu-like symptoms and a rash. But cases of Zika in pregnant women have been linked to microcephaly, a serious birth defect that affects the development of babies’ skulls and brains. Zika also has been found to cause some neurological complications in adults, including Guillain-Barré syndrome.

The Zika virus is primarily spread by two mosquito species. It also can be passed through sex from one person to another.

There have been more than 4,000 cases of Zika diagnosed in the United States since 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most are associated with travel to areas with large outbreaks, such as Brazil and Puerto Rico. However, there were 184 locally acquired mosquito-borne cases in Florida this year, and one was recently reported in Texas.

As of November, Virginia has seen 94 travel-related cases, and no locally acquired cases. But Robert W. Malone, CEO of Atheric Pharmaceutical in Troy, said mosquitoes eventually could bring the virus into the state.

“There’s a darned good chance, with this mild winter, that [Zika] is going to come roaring out of Miami next spring,” he said.

Malone said it could take a decade for new drugs or vaccines for Zika to be brought to market. That’s why his company is exploring ways to use existing drugs to protect people from Zika and treat its complications.

“Drug combinations, not vaccines, are what has made it possible for us to control AIDS,” Malone reminded the audience. “To combat a disease like this, you have to use everything.”

In its work with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, Atheric has found that an inexpensive combination of anti-malarial and anti-worm drugs can prevent infection of the Zika virus. Malone said he believes these drugs, and others, could stop a highly contagious outbreak if they are taken by a large majority of an affected population...

Martin D. Chapman, president and CEO of Indoor Biotechnologies, is one of the founders of the CvilleBioHub. He said the organization’s website will offer detailed and up-to-date information on every biotech company in the Charlottesville area, providing a useful resource for policymakers and potential investors.

“People don’t know a lot about the tremendous work going on here,” Chapman said.

Malone said the CvilleBioHub will help startups connect with leaders of the region’s more established biotech companies. “It’s not enough to just have money,” he said. “You need successful entrepreneurs with past success who can mentor.”"

Click here to go to the link

First International Zika Conference to be held in February, 2017

CEO of Atheric, Robert W Malone, MD is on the faculty of the First International Zika Conference to be held in February, 2017 and will be presenting on our drug development program

GENERAL INFORMATION

Conference Venue

Washington Marriott at Metro Center, February 22-25, 2017

 

The scientific program of this pioneering conference has been designed to provide an up to date panorama of the virus from a medical and geographical point of view. We will exchange the latest data with specialists and researchers in the area and we are grateful to the International Faculty for their efforts in developing the program. 

An international scientific conference of this caliber provides an important forum for clinicians and researchers to develop fruitful collaborations.

We hope that you will join us in Washington DC in February

For a link to the website, click here.

The Nobel Prize: Autophagy: the understanding of which has allowed development of Antivirals against Zika!

The Nobel Prize: Autophagy: the understanding of which has allowed development of Antivirals against Zika!

Summary

This year's Nobel Laureate discovered and elucidated mechanisms underlying autophagy, a fundamental process for degrading and recycling cellular components.  

The word autophagy originates from the Greek words auto-, meaning "self", and phagein, meaning "to eat"Thus,autophagy denotes "self eating". This concept emerged during the 1960's, when researchers first observed that the cell could destroy its own contents by enclosing it in membranes, forming sack-like vesicles that were transported to a recycling compartment, called the lysosome, for degradation. Difficulties in studying the phenomenon meant that little was known until, in a series of brilliant experiments in the early 1990's, Yoshinori Ohsumi used baker's yeast to identify genes essential for autophagy. He then went on to elucidate the underlying mechanisms for autophagy in yeast and showed that similar sophisticated machinery is used in our cells.

Ohsumi's discoveries led to a new paradigm in our understanding of how the cell recycles its content. His discoveries opened the path to understanding the fundamental importance of autophagy in many physiological processes, such as in the adaptation to starvation or response to infection. Mutations in autophagy genes can cause disease, and the autophagic process is involved in several conditions including cancer and neurological disease.

Click here for the link to the press release.

"Treating Zika Infection: Repurposed Drugs Show Promise"

"...they’ve shown that some existing drugs might be repurposed to fight Zika infection and prevent the virus from harming the developing brain While additional research is needed, the new findings suggest it may be possible to speed development and approval of new treatments for Zika infection."  

writes Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH in the article titled "Treating Zika Infection: Repurposed Drugs Show Promise"

 

UNDERSTANDING THE LIKELY CAUSES OF THE ZIKA VIRUS CONGENITAL SYNDROME

 

Newswise — The ongoing Zika virus epidemic in the Americas and the observed association with both fetal abnormalities (primary microcephaly) and adult autoimmune pathology (Guillain–Barré syndrome) has brought attention to this neglected pathogen. In “Zika Fetal Neuropathogenesis: Etiology of a Viral Syndrome,” published in the most recent PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the authors analyze Zika fetal neuropathogenesis from a comparative pathology perspective. By drawing parallels to other viral infections of the fetus, the authors identify common themes and mechanisms that may illuminate the observed pathology.

The authors of the paper include: Zachary A. Klase (University of the Sciences), Svetlana Khakhina (University of the Sciences), Adriano De Bernardi Schneider (University of North Carolina at Charlotte), Michael V. Callahan (Massachusetts General Hospital and Zika Foundation), Jill Glasspool-Malone (Atheric Pharmaceutical and Global Clinical Scholars Research Training Program at the Harvard Medical School), and Robert Malone (Atheric Pharmaceutical and Global Clinical Scholars Research Training Program at the Harvard Medical School).

Author Robert Malone, M.D. places these findings in historical context of other infectious diseases, “Never before has the world health community encountered a pathogen like the version of Zika virus circulating in the Americas. The combination of enhanced viral stability, efficient sexual and mosquito borne transmission makes the Zika virus unique.” Pertaining to birth defects, Dr. Malone points out “Other viruses such as Rubella and West Nile virus can trigger similar birth defects; however, it is the frequency, relative risk, and severity of the congenital syndrome that makes Zika so unique as a disease.” Dr. Malone continues the discussion on the likely cells and tissues “Our analysis indicates that one of the most striking features of human Zika virus disease is the presence of virus in specific types of cells in the nervous system, as well as in various glands which produce key body fluids. Many of these cells and tissues are associated with stem cells which employ the Musashi-1 regulatory protein to control gene expression.”

Author Zachary A. Klase, Ph.D. notes, "When we began writing this review all that existed in the literature were case reports and theories. We decided to compile this paper to give a comprehensive overview of all the information and to use solid basic virology to draw conclusions."

Author Michael Callahan, M.D. discusses the health implications, “Unlike in Asia and Africa, Zika virus is a new arrival in the tropical Americas and so our patients are not immune. Also, Zika is now proving destructive to growing nerve cells with a spectrum of congenital abnormalities seen in intrauterine patients.” Pertaining to developing a Zika vaccine, Dr. Callahan raises the concern that “Antibodies to other local viruses such as dengue can make Zika infection worse. This point emphasizes that physicians must be very careful to ensure that any proposed vaccine does not increase the severity of a Zika infection or another viral infection by inducing harmful antibodies.”

In summary, the author’s meta-analysis reveals that Zika virus most likely triggers the Zika congenital birth defect syndrome by multiple mechanisms, which may act at different stages of pregnancy. While it is now clear that the Zika virus can directly damage fetal development including by directly infecting the brain, the analysis of available data suggests that the fetal damage is a multifactorial process. Interaction of many different events including time and level of infection during pregnancy, prior exposure to related pathogens such as Dengue, and possibly other environmental, toxin, drug and genetic factors may interact to determine the relative risk of birth defects when the fetus or the placenta are infected.

Funding: The authors received no specific funding for this work. Research reported in this publication was supported by a UNC Research Opportunities Initiative grant to UNC Charlotte, NC State University, and UNC-Chapel Hill. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: Drs. Robert Malone and Jill Glasspool-Malone are principal stockholders of Atheric Pharmaceutical, LLC. Robert Malone is the managing partner of Atheric Pharmaceutical. Dr. Michael Callahan is the Chief Medical Officer of the Zika Foundation.

Citation: Klase ZA, Khakhina S, Schneider ADB, Callahan MV, Glasspool-Malone J, Malone R (2016) Zika Fetal Neuropathogenesis: Etiology of a Viral Syndrome. PLOS Negl Trop Dis 10(8): e0004877. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0004877

Contacts:
Robert W. Malone, M.D., Robert.Malone@Atheric.com, +1 (240) 994-3334

About USciences: University of the Sciences (USciences) has prepared students to be leaders and practitioners in the healthcare and science fields for nearly 200 years. Key to its distinctive education is a tradition of hands-on research and experiential learning that is evident in every graduate who has walked its campus. Since its founding in 1821 as Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, the first college of pharmacy in North America, USciences has grown to more than 30 degree-granting programs from bachelor’s through doctoral degrees in the health sciences, bench sciences, and healthcare business and policy fields. Discover how USciences students are proven everywhere they go at USciences.edu.

About Atheric: Atheric Pharmaceutical LLC (Atheric) has been formed to address the global unmet need for the rapid development of drugs to prevent and treat emerging infectious disease. Atheric is an early-stage pharmaceutical company currently focused on the prevention and treatment of human flavivirus disease (e.g., West Nile, dengue, yellow fever, and Zika virus (ZIKV)) including associated neurological disorders (e.g., Guillain–Barré Syndrome (GBS)) and birth defects (e.g., congenital microcephaly) using re-purposed broad spectrum multidrug regimens. Although there is a longstanding need for anti-flavivirus drugs, Atheric is initially addressing the most pressing unmet medical needs caused by the Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak in the Americas. For questions, please contact Jeffrey DiFrancesco, Chief Business Officer atJeffrey.DiFrancesco@Atheric.com, +1 (215) 275-1080 or visit Atheric.com.

http://www.newswise.com/articles/understanding-the-likely-causes-of-the-zika-virus-congenital-syndrome