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ST. LOUIS -- GenoMed Inc. has announced a possible antidote against most viruses, including SARS, influenza, Hantavirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), monkeypox, Ebola virus, West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, Eastern Equine encephalitis virus, smallpox virus, HIV, polio virus, and perhaps even the viruses responsible for the common cold.
Viruses, especially those which rarely infect humans, can be quite lethal. The classic example is the novel influenza A strain which killed millions of people worldwide in the 1918 flu pandemic. SARS, West Nile virus, and the current influenza virus are today's lethal viruses.
Prevailing dogma holds that people who die from viral diseases -- the very young and the very old -- are immunocompromised and lack the ability to fight back against the virus. But autopsy results show a very strong immune response. Except in obviously immunocompromised people taking steroids or on chemotherapy, it's the host's immune response, not overgrowth of the virus, that kills the host. For bacterial disease like anthrax, it's the opposite: unchecked growth of the bacterium liquefies organs.
Respiratory viruses like influenza, Hantavirus, RSV, and SARS cause death due to an acute respiratory distress-like syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is already felt to be caused by an overly exuberant innate immune response. Hemorrhagic viruses like Ebola virus likely cause fatal bleeding via a similar mechanism: too exuberant an immune response to a novel virus. Smallpox causes a systemic disease with a 30 percent mortality quite similar to SARS. In all cases, the host's initial unchecked immune response, not viral overgrowth, appears to determine whether the host lives or dies.
For novel viruses, the body has no memory of ever having seen the virus, so it can't coat the virus with pre-existing antibodies or calm the rage of immune effector cells with soothing suppressor T cells. The whole point of vaccination is to have pre-existing antibodies around when the virus shows up. Vaccination also creates suppressor T cells with specific memory for the virus.
GenoMed believes it has discovered a way to accomplish the equivalent of vaccination against all viruses, which could serve as a kind of antidote to all viral diseases. Its way involves blocking angiotensin II.
Angiotensin II is a critical activator of the innate immune response, since angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE), the enzyme which produces angiotensin II, is expressed on activated macrophages and T cells. All immune cells, including macrophages, T cells and B cells, and neutrophils, contain type 1 receptors for angiotensin II. Blocking the production of angiotensin II with an ACE inhibitor, or the action of angiotensin II with an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB), should tone down the host's initial immune response, similar to what an effective vaccine does. If the company is right, GenoMed's approach should lower mortality and hasten recovery from most viral infections, including the common cold.
"Our press releases may seem a bit repetitive lately, and I apologize for that. But the lives I hope they save this winter will be worth it," said Dr. David Moskowitz, chief medical and executive officer for GenoMed. "Those who have followed our press releases will notice that we have gradually extended our understanding to encompass all viral infections. This isn't at all bad for a start-up company with a very limited budget. Imagine what we could do with more!"
Continued Moskowitz, "Like everyone else, I've long felt helpless against viral diseases. We now have the ammunition to fight back safely and effectively againt perhaps all viruses. Only time will tell whether we're right. But time is definitely on our side: no vaccines are available yet for general use against viruses like SARS or West Nile virus. There is still no vaccine against HIV, despite 20 years' of effort. Even the vaccine we have against the flu doesn't seem so great this year. We expect to learn a lot about our theory this winter. The Internet now makes it possible for anybody to enroll in our free clinical trial at any time of day or night anywhere in the world, simply by going to our website and clicking on the relevant trial. People will have to enter their email address so that we can follow up with them. We ask this so we can publish our case series as we're already doing for West Nile virus encephalitis. In return for giving us their email address, people will be able to download the documents they'll need to show their physician in order to get started immediately on our trial. A family member could easily do this for a child getting worse with the flu, for example. We believe our approach may be ideal for combating bioterrorism, both the kind that could theoretically be launched by terrorists, as well as the much larger viral assault that Mother Nature inflicts on our species every day."
To volunteer for one of GenoMed's free clinical trials, go to www.genomedics.com .
Source: GenoMed Inc.