08/10/10 - Kalamazoo-based NanoVir receives $3 million NIH grant
August 10, 2010
Scientists at Kalamazoo-based NanoVir have received a $3 million, three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for their research on new antiviral drugs candidates. The candidate drugs are “broad spectrum,” designed to fight multiple strains of high-risk human papillomaviruses, or HPVs, the viral cause of essentially all cervical cancer. The grant is entitled "Preclinical Development of Broad Spectrum Antiviral Compounds to Treat Human Papillomavirus (HPV)."
HPV is the primary cause of cervical cancer, and is also the most prevalent sexually-transmitted virus in the world. Cervical cancer is second only to breast cancer among lethal cancers that affects women worldwide. Each year, nearly 11,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the U.S. alone.
The Principal Investigator on the grant is Chris Fisher of NanoVir, while the lead chemist on the project is James Bashkin, co-founder of NanoVir and Research Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The $3 million award means that NanoVir has raised over $9.5 million in grants since 2004 when it first started at the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center.
“Some years were lean and difficult to survive as a company, but we have always kept our focus on advancing our lead compounds through pre-clinical studies and into the clinic. In the current climate of diminishing venture capital, our ability to raise money through grants from the NIH has been critical to our ability to survive and flourish. These grants are highly competitive, with the major criteria for funding being the significance of the science, its potential impact on human health and the quality of the research team – all areas in which we excel,” said Chris Fisher, Director of Biology.
“We are pleased with the success NanoVir has found from its Kalamazoo base in the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center. The company should be proud of its continued recognition for its outstanding research by the NIH,” said Ron Kitchens, Chief Executive Officer of Southwest Michigan First. “NanoVir is an integral player in the West Michigan life science community.”
“As we know from everything we have read about and experienced in so-called ‘Big Pharma,’ the task of discovering and then developing new therapeutic agents is a very high risk business. Increasingly, the large pharmaceutical companies are relying on the scientific knowledge and individual motivation of scientists, like those at NanoVir to identify and to provide the next best therapeutic agents for unmet or under-served medical conditions. It is fantastic that the NIH has recognized the potential of the work being done at NanoVir,” said Rob DeWit, Chief Executive Officer of the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center.
In addition, NanoVir has also benefitted from support from a variety of sources, such as Western Michigan University’s Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation who has funded programs to aid and support the submission of competitive grants.
About NanoVir, LLC
NanoVir, LLC is a drug discovery company dedicated to finding treatments for HPV, a primary cause of both abnormal pap smears and cervical cancer. NanoVir focuses on studying DNA-targeted therapies aimed to treat high-risk HPV infection before it can progress to cancer. The company is funded by the National Institutes of Health, under the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. NanoVir’s Kalamazoo site at the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center of Western Michigan University conducts cell-biology and virology studies, while its colleagues at the University of Missouri-St. Louis site carry out the related chemistry. The firm is currently concentrating on a topical treatment that could eliminate HPV infections. For more information, go to http://www.nanovirpharm.com/.
About the National Institutes of Health
The NIH, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the principal federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research. Helping to lead the way toward important medical discoveries that improve people's health and save lives, NIH-funded scientists investigate ways to prevent disease as well as the causes, treatments, and cures for common and rare diseases. Composed of 27 institutes and centers, the NIH provides leadership and financial support to researchers in every state and throughout the world. To learn more, visit http://www.nih.gov/.
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