Breakthrough results announced: Nelson biotech start-up Kimer Med confirms its antiviral compound's effectiveness against two priority viruses, bringing total to seven.
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 South East 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.
About Kimer Med
Kimer Med is a biotech start-up, based in Nelson, New Zealand. Backed by a multi-million dollar seed funding round, they are developing broad-spectrum antiviral compounds with the goal of reducing the suffering of hundreds of millions of humans and animals worldwide. The company was awarded a 2021-22 Project Grant from Callaghan Innovation which helps fund their R&D and includes financial support for the new laboratory.
 About CPE (Cytopathic Effect) reduction assays
When a virus infects a cell and undergoes lytic replication, the cell is eventually damaged or killed. This is known as the cytopathic effect, or CPE. The CPE reduction assay is a common testing method used to assess the effects of drug candidates against viruses in a laboratory setting.
First, scientists grow a layer of cells in the wells of a special plate. Next, they introduce the virus they want to study into the plate, allowing it to infect the cells, by adding a specific amount of the virus to the cell culture. The amount of virus introduced is such that after a few days, in the absence of treatment, 85% to 100% of the cells will die from CPE.
At certain, measured dosages, they also introduce the antiviral compound to the infected cells. This allows comparison of cells with and without treatment. At the end of the test, the number of surviving cells is measured, using a special dye.
A 100% positive results means that at a certain dose of the antiviral compound, there was a 100% reduction in viral CPE, indicating that the antiviral compound is rescuing the cells, i.e. preventing the virus from damaging the cells.
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