Posted by David Moskowitz MD, a resident of another community, on Jun 8, 2008 at 12:36 pm
My biotech company has had encouraging results treating West Nile virus encephalitis since 2003: 81% treatment success rate in people (22 of 27), 75% in horses (6 of 8), and 50% in birds (6 of 12).
Our approach works best when people first have symptoms of a fever and headache. But we’ve been able to help people even a few years after the initial episode of WNV encephalitis.
Our first 8 WNV patients were published in a peer-reviewed medical journal in 2004 (1). We’re eager to see if our approach works again this year.
The drugs we use are already approved by the FDA for blood pressure. They seem to be anti-inflammatory, too. People with a normal immune system who get sick from the West Nile virus appear to overdo their immune response to the virus. Our approach is meant to gently calm down their exaggerated immune response, the so-called “cytokine storm.” It can be used in the very old, the very young, and everybody in between.
It can also be used for almost any virus except the herpes viruses, which is why our approach was included in the BioShield II Act of April 28, 2005, co-sponsored by Senators Lieberman, Hatch, and Brownback. The bill was never debated, but our approach was mentioned in Section 2151 (Web Link). In 2004, I briefed the White House and the Dept of Homeland Security about it. The UN is aware of our approach in the context of bird flu, although they haven’t tested it, preferring to push Roche’s drug Tamiflu instead.
Although our approach looks quite useful, the CDC no longer even talks to us. State public health authorities, taking their cue from the CDC, tell reporters that they’ve never heard of us, or that we're making up our data. This isn’t the least bit helpful. If they don’t believe our data, they should at least put our method to the test. As fellow professionals, they owe us that much. Pontification without experimentation is the opposite of the scientific method.
Public health authorities used to run clinical trials. Now they merely test blood samples. In effect, the CDC has become like the Hanes lady. Nobody dies of WNV unless the CDC says they did. The CDC’s total lack of interest in testing a promising treatment boggles the mind.
The CDC reminds me a lot of FEMA.
On the other hand, this vacuum in public health represents an enormous business opportunity, akin to IBM’s sticking to hardware and leaving software to people like Bill Gates.
The drugs we use cost about $1 a tablet. We use one or two pills a day. They’re carried in every drugstore on earth. We don’t sell the tablets, we just sell the license to use them. But we have no great illusions that we’ll be able to collect license fees for such short-term use. Frankly, this is a loss-leader for us, equivalent to AOL’s handing out free Internet hours.
But if our treatment works, it will be a sweet deal for public health, which is GenoMed’s main concern.
Anybody who wants to download our WNV trial protocol can do so for free at any time by clicking on the "West Nile trial" link on our company’s homepage at www.genomed.com.
Incidentally, contrary to popular belief, the people who get sick from West Nile have unusually strong immune systems, not "weakened" ones. Only if you're taking chemotherapy or Prednisone is your immune system weak. Otherwise, you should hope for no cytokine storm with WNV, I believe.
1: Moskowitz DW, Johnson FE. The central role of angiotensin I-converting enzyme in vertebrate pathophysiology. Curr Top Med Chem. 2004;4(13):1433-54. PMID: 15379656 (For PDF file, click on paper #6 at: Web Link) -- see Table 2 for WNV patients
Dave Moskowitz MD FACP
CEO, GenoMed, Inc.
“The public health company™”
Ticker symbol: GMED (on the Pink Sheets)