Antiviral RNA compounds against Influenza viruses

Wageningen University is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a new class of antiviral drugs based on RNA compounds able to reduce viral replication levels and potentially applicable to all Influenza viruses, including new pandemic strains.

Summary

Current options to reduce the impact of Influenza virus infections include vaccination and the use of antiviral drugs. Both therapeutics show limits. Vaccines cannot provide immunity against new strains of viruses and manufacturing capacity may be insufficient when coping with sudden high demands.  Antiviral drugs have the advantage to be immediately applicable and thereby may help to contain an emerging pandemic virus at its emergence. However, the efficacy of the two currently available classes of antiviral drugs, neuraminidase inhibitors (e.g. Tamiflu) and ion channel blockers, is limited and dependent on a very early start of treatment. Furthermore, increasing numbers of cases are being reported on resistance against the application of neuraminidase inhibitors. The antiviral RNA compounds proposed in this invention act on a very conserved mechanism within Influenza viruses that is different from the currently available classes of emerging drugs, thus offering possibilities for new antiviral drug design and for solutions to the above described limitations.

The invention

Wageningen University’s scientists have identified RNA compounds that are preferentially being used during the initiation of the Influenza virus genome transcription. Once made dysfunctional, these RNA compounds can reduce viral genome transcription and replication levels and therefore the level of virus titers and the development of infection. Positive in vitro and ex vivo results to date suggest that this new RNA molecules will show greater efficacy against pandemic virus strains.

Applications

New antiviral drug design leading to transcriptional reduction of Influenza viral genomic RNA segments. Since the RNA compounds rely on a sequence which is conserved among all Influenza (A, B and C) viruses, the RNA compounds can be functional as antiviral drug against all Influenza viruses, including new, emerging pandemic strains.

Benefits

  • Provides RNA compounds inhibiting Influenza virus transcription/replication in vitro and ex vivo
  • May be functional as antiviral drug against all Influenza viruses, including new emerging pandemic strains
  • RNA compounds can be applied in relative low dosage to still outcompete other RNA molecules
  • May offer solutions to the disadvantages shown by vaccines and other antiviral drugs

Stage of development

Concept and application tested in vitro and ex vivo. Needs proof of concept through (pre-)clinical research.