NanoViricides Inc. (NNVC) has been one of the most widely covered micro caps within the antiviral space ever since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19). The company's stock shot up to a new 52-week-high of around $19 when it announced that it had started the drug development process.
There has been regular investor communication regarding the company's progress in the drug development process, and its recent announcement regarding the visit of U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal implies a significant step forward.
What does NanoViricides do?
NanoViricides, Inc. is a development stage nano-biopharmaceutical company with its research focused on countering viral infections. Founded in 2005, the company uses a unique nanomedicine technology called nanoviricides, which are agents designed to "fool" a virus into attaching to an antiviral nanomachine in the same way that the virus normally attaches to the receptors on a cell surface. The nanoviricides then neutralize and destroy the virus.
Based in Connecticut, the company is developing nanoviricide drug candidates against some critical viral diseases such as seasonal and particularly deadly influenza variations, shingles, HIV/AIDS, cold sores, genital herpes, viral eye diseases, dengue viruses and now Covid-19.
Covid-19 drug progress
NanoViricides was among the first names in the pharma industry to commence the drug development research for the treatment of Covid-19. The company's research team went ahead and identified the virus-binding ligands and within a few weeks, it completed the synthesis of a number of nanoviricide drug candidates for the purpose of testing. For the purpose of their research, the NanoViricides team acquired and worked on two different, low-threat circulating coronaviruses in its BSL2 certified virology laboratory. These coronavirus samples have been expanded to enable the testing of drug candidates. The research team has already successfully developed antiviral drug testing assays based on cell culture infection of these samples.
Senator visit and CARES funding
NanoViricides reported that they had a visit from Senator Richard Blumenthal at their facility in Shelton, Connecticut on March 31, 2020, with the purpose of receiving an update on the drug development progress. The Senator, his staff and members of the press toured the company's lab as well as its c-CMG-capable manufacturing facility.
In the press conference that followed the tour, the Senator announced that the company deserved consideration for CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) funding to boost its research and save lives. Senator Blumenthal has been a co-author of the $8.3 billion CARES Act, and his statement that the company could be a deserving candidate for the CARES funding is certainly a positive sign for investors.
In the press conference, CEO Dr. Anil Diwan went on to compare the nanoviricide technology with a Venus flytrap for viruses such that the virus cannot escape and damage other healthy cells of the body. However, the next critical step is to effectively test these drug candidates. The management is working to establish collaborations with external BSL3/BSL4 labs that have developed assays for testing its drug candidates and have a track record of working on collaborations with the U.S. Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID).
Dr. Diwan also communicated the company's intention to publish its results once the verification experiments are completed. While the management works towards the new collaborations, the research team has already begun certain animal studies to help identify clinical drug candidates in order to expedite the program.
However, the potential access to federal funding and agency support from the likes of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the FDA and the NIH is bound to help the company in speeding up the process.
As you can see in the chart above, the stock has more than tripled in value over the last six months, but its current level of $5.30 is nowhere close to the earlier high of around $17, a jump caused by the news that the company was entering the Covid-19 fight.
It is also worth highlighting that NanoViricides has a good manufacturing capability and could produce enough of the drug to treat as many as a thousand patients in a single batch.
Disclosure: No positions.
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This article first appeared on GuruFocus.