VirionHealth receives $4.2 m from DARPA

VirionHealth, a new biotechnology company developing novel therapeutics for respiratory viral infections, announced it has won non-dilutive funding worth up to $4.2 million from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

VirionHealth’s new class of biological antivirals act by out competing replication of infectious viruses to both prevent and treat viral infections. The company is exploiting this technology to develop the first broad-spectrum therapy, potentially simplifying and accelerating treatment by removing the need for differential diagnosis.

The award will support development of VirionHealth’s new class of biological antivirals, in particular both preclinical and Phase 1 clinical studies for its lead programme.

This effort is funded under DARPA’s INTERfering and Co-Evolving Prevention and Therapy (INTERCEPT) programme.

Whereas other anti-infective strategies typically take aim at a static target and become obsolete if the target mutates, INTERCEPT seeks to develop a novel approach that uses evolution to defeat rapidly mutating pathogens and thus keep pace with fast-evolving targets.

In addition, the technology is far less susceptible to resistance than other approaches due to its unique viral out-competition abilities and innate immune system stimulation. Resistance has become one of the most significant concerns for public health globally.

In October, VirionHealth raised up to $17 million in Series A funding from Abingworth, the international investment group dedicated to life sciences.

Dr Jeffrey Almond, Chairman of VirionHealth, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding and to be working with DARPA to harness the therapeutic potential of defective interfering viruses and accelerate the progress of our novel antiviral programme into the clinic.”

“This new funding recognises the significant potential of VirionHealth’s approach in treating respiratory tract infections,” said Professor Nigel Dimmock, Scientific Co-founder at VirionHealth.

“Building on innovative work at the University of Warwick, we are the only company to have successfully developed a therapeutically active defective interfering virus.”

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