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ST. LOUIS -- GenoMed Inc. reported today on its series of 9 consecutive patients with West Nile virus encephalitis. Eight of nine consecutive patients (89 percent) had disappearance of symptoms within an average of 24 hours of taking an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB), a few as early as 12 hours. Three patients, all of whom responded promptly to GenoMed's treatment, were in the highest risk group for dying, (i.e., over the age of 70).
Earlier, the company reported on 10 patients, but one of the patients, a non-responder, turned out not to have West Nile virus antibodies.
Because of the similarity in the body's response to the West Nile virus and the SARS virus, the same treatment should be equally effective against both diseases.
Dr. David Moskowitz, GenoMed's CEO and chief medical officer, said, "Thanks to my wonderful collaborators in Omaha, Neb. and Pueblo, Colo., we've gotten a good picture of what angiotensin II blockade can and can't do against West Nile virus. It can't prevent encephalitis, but it can make it disappear faster. So far we haven't seen any recovery if our treatment is delayed until after a patient is already paralyzed. But symptoms of active infection like headache, confusion, delirium, weakness and fatigue have gone away promptly after starting treatment. The lesson is clear: use ARBs or ACE inhibitors early in the course of the disease."
Moskowitz continued, "Ten percent of people with West Nile virus encephalitis die; among the elderly, the death rate approaches 50 percent. In view of these alarming statistics, angiotensin II blockade appears to be a very effective treatment indeed. Our treatment is also available immediately to anyone who wants it, assuming our Internet server is up to the task. Every pharmacy in the world carries ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers. I know of no other treatment for West Nile virus encephalitis that is as safe, effective, and universally available as ours."
Moskowitz concluded, "The same, I hope, will hold just as true for SARS. We'll soon find out. I know we can effectively enroll the entire world in our SARS trial, given the power of the Internet."
The West Nile virus epidemic has already peaked in some states, like Colorado, but may continue into November in other regions. By accelerating recovery from infection, GenoMed believes that its treatment will save additional lives during the course of this year's epidemic.
The recurrence of SARS may have already begun, with a few cases recently reported in Singapore. This year's epidemic is expected to start again in Southeast Asia, where it began a year ago.
GenoMed, Inc.'s mission is to improve patient outcomes by identifying the molecular pathways that cause disease. A St. Louis Business Journal article first reported that the company has applied for patents based on its finding that the ACE gene is associated with a large number of common diseases including virtually all autoimmune diseases. West Nile virus encephalitis is usually due to over-reaction of a person's immune system against the virus, rather than to damage by the virus itself. GenoMed believes that this same approach will also hasten recovery from the severe lung inflammation that causes death in the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Like West Nile virus encephalitis, SARS involves an overly exuberant response of the body's innate immune system, specifically of the body's macrophages, a kind of white blood cell.
The only major difference is the organ affected, which depends on how the virus enters the body. The SARS virus is inhaled into the lungs, so the body's immune response damages the lungs. The West Nile virus is injected by mosquitoes into the bloodstream, and inflammation takes place in the blood vessels of the brain. The same immune cell, though, is involved in both diseases: the macrophage.
Macrophages express ACE on their surface membrane when they get activated, suggesting that ACE's main product, angiotensin II, is involved in starting the immune response and keeping it going. Angiotensin II "stokes" the fire; by inhibiting angiotensin II, GenoMed's treatment allows the "fire" (inflammation) to die down more quickly.
Besides these cases of West Nile virus encephalitis, GenoMed has found that blocking angiotensin II is an extremely safe and effective way to treat autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and alopecia. These last two are skin diseases which involve T cells, not macrophages. But T cells, like macrophages, also express ACE on their surface membrane when they become activated.
GenoMed believes the widespread use of its safe, effective treatment will make unnecessary the WHO and CDC's current plan of world-wide quarantine until a safe, effective vaccine should become available. GenoMed notes that there is still no effective vaccine against HIV, despite 20 years of research. Even a single year of quarantine will seriously damage the global economy, which most would agree is already weak enough as it is.
Source: GenoMed Inc.