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Breakthrough results – Kimer Med confirms antiviral compound works against Dengue and Zika

Kimer Med Lead Scientist, Dr Rishi Pandey, working in the laboratory.

Nelson, New Zealand – 7 June 2023 – Kimer Med, a Nelson, New Zealand-based biotech start-up developing broad-spectrum antiviral compounds, today announced that it had achieved two 100% positive results in tests against the priority viruses Dengue (DENV-2) and Zika (ZIKV). The tests were carried out by an independent laboratory in the United States, where Kimer Med’s antiviral compound, VTose, demonstrated 100% effectiveness against both Dengue and Zika virus in viral cytopathic effect (CPE) reduction assays, with low toxicity.

Kimer Med’s antiviral compounds have now shown efficacy against a total of seven different viruses, boosted by the two recent results. The latest findings validate the promise of their “small pharma” drug development model to custom-produce targeted antivirals to combat a wide range of infectious viral diseases and future pandemic threats.

Kimer Med CEO and Chief Science Officer, Rick Kiessig, said he welcomed the two 100% positive results and the progress that the company was making towards its goals.

“So far, we’ve developed a broad-spectrum antiviral compound and shown that it works against a range of viruses. We’re currently trying to optimise the formula to work against many more viruses, and these results help to confirm that we are on the right track”, said Kiessig.

“Dengue and Zika are both members of the same virus family (Flaviviridae), which are all positive-sense, single-stranded, enveloped RNA viruses. This family of viruses causes widespread suffering and death in many parts of the world, so we are encouraged by these results.”

While not currently a threat to health in New Zealand, Dengue, Zika and other mosquito-transmitted diseases are significant public health concerns throughout much of Africa, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia. Dengue fever is the most common mosquito-borne viral disease in the world, and is now endemic to 129 countries, putting 3.9 billion people at risk each year and resulting in hundreds of millions of cases worldwide. It can cause high fevers, crippling joint pain, serious organ failure and death, and the sheer number of cases that present during an outbreak can overwhelm hospitals and health clinics.

Zika virus has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization (WHO). Since 2007 there have been outbreaks of Zika virus disease recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific Islands. Women who are infected by Zika virus during pregnancy can bear children with serious health conditions, including microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is significantly smaller than expected, due to abnormal brain development.

“Both Dengue and Zika are significant diseases from a global perspective, and in spite of their prevalence and severity, there are no specific antiviral drugs available to treat them,” Kiessig said.

“For this reason, we plan to bring our antiviral to market as quickly as possible. This will have a massive global impact by reducing suffering and death among affected populations.”

Kimer Med announced in November 2022 that they had reached an agreement with Cawthron Institute to establish a laboratory at their state-of-the-art Te Wero Aro-aramata facility in Nelson. Since then, the company has set up a PC-2 laboratory and hired a Lead Research Scientist, Dr Rishi Pandey, to step up the pace and scope of their antiviral research and development.

Dr Pandey has a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Canterbury and ten years of experience in the biotechnology industry. He is an expert in protein engineering, formulation development and analytical biochemistry, and will play a pivotal role in Kimer Med’s ongoing development of novel, antiviral medicines.

The company is planning to start a series A capital raise later in the year, as it gears up to begin clinical trials.
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