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ST. LOUIS -- GenoMed, Inc. announces that it has launched clinical trials against common RNA viruses. These include monkeypox, which is endemic in West Africa, but which caused a recent outbreak in the Midwest; West Nile virus, which has plagued New York since 1999 and the Midwest since 2001; and the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. Monkeypox and West Nile virus have acute mortality rates up to 10 percent; with current anti-viral therapy, acute mortality from HIV has been greatly suppressed.
These trials complement GenoMed's efforts to combat SARS, which also has a mortality rate approaching 10 percent. GenoMed is using a non-conventional approach: to safely modulate the host's immune response. This approach can obviously be used where no antiviral therapy or vaccine yet exists, as for monkeypox, West Nile virus, and SARS. It can also complement antiviral therapy which may be toxic or expensive, as in HIV, or to cover individuals who failed to be vaccinated.
What all these diverse viruses appear to share is a dependence on angiotensin II for their disease severity. Flu-like symptoms (high fever, chills, muscle aches) come from two major cytokines: tumor necrosis factor- alpha, produced primarily by virally-infected macrophages, and interferon- gamma, made largely by virally-infected T lymphocytes ("T cells"). Severe complications, such as encephalitis in West Nile virus, or respiratory failure in SARS, appear to be caused by an over-exuberant immune response, not by the virus itself. T cells are involved primarily in West Nile virus, and macrophages in SARS.
Angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) is expressed on the surface of activated macrophages and T cells. Since ACE makes angiotensin II, an important immune stimulator, a logical way to try to down-grade the immune response is to use an ACE inhibitor, or an angiotensin II receptor blocker. These two classes of drugs have been used quite safely in hundreds of millions of patients for many years.
Source: GenoMed, Inc.