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Swedish Biotech Firm Licenses HIV-drug Technology from UMBC


Inventions Developed in Prof. Michael Summers’ Lab Could Lead to New HIV Drugs, Targets

The Swedish biotech firm Vironova has reached an agreement with UMBC to license patented technology developed in the laboratory of Michael Summers, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator at UMBC, which could lead to new anti-HIV drugs.

Under the terms of the agreement, Vironova is granted exclusive worldwide rights to two patent families owned by UMBC. The patents cover inventions related to substances and targets for so-called capsid assembly inhibitors (CAI). Capsids are the protective protein shells of viruses. CAI drugs keep viruses from becoming infectious by interfering with the precise assembly of about 60 proteins that make up the capsid.

Summers, one of only two HHMI Investigators at Maryland public universities, is a world authority in HIV research. His lab has earned national acclaim for the quality of its research as well as the diversity of its undergraduate and graduate student researchers, many of whom are Meyerhoff Scholars at UMBC.

Summers will stay in close cooperation with Vironova as the projects progress towards clinical development. The financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

The HIV drug development programme at Vironova is primarily focusing on CAIs. So far, much of the work has evolved around assessing the intellectual property and potential of these CAI substances at the Karolinska Institute, Huddinge (Stockholm), under the supervision of Professor Jan Bergman. These activities will now be extended to include the Summers lab at UMBC.

“By closing this agreement, we are pleased to solidify our collaboration with professor Summers and his team at UMBC. I‘m convinced our joined forces will result in many new drug candidate discoveries," said Mohammed Homman, CEO and founder of Vironova.

"We are excited about moving forward with this international collaboration," said Summers. "Vironova's expertise in drug design and optimization will hopefully lead to the breakthroughs needed to get this new class of HIV-1 capsid assembly inhibitors into the clinic."

About Vironova

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Vironova is a young fast growing company that develops antiviral drugs targeting HIV, herpes and influenza. The company is also a leading innovator of virus diagnostics software products and virus analysis services based on transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images.

Presently, Vironova manages a number of projects to develop new image analysis techniques to detect and identify different viruses affecting humans and animals. The single most significant project concerns viruses regarded to be the most devastating in case of potential epidemic or pandemic outbreaks. Read more about the project on www.panvirushield.com.

Posted: December 19, 2008, 12:00 PM