Fledgling Danish biotech company Inagen has gained a DKK 5m (USD 940,000) investment from Novo A/S, the holding company in the Novo Group, and CAT Science Park in Denmark, to bring its primary drug candidate for the treatment of cytomegalovirus (CMV), a member of the herpes virus family, to the preclinical phase. According to Rizau, which reports the news, the technology could have a value of several billion dollars in the US alone.
More than half of all adults have had an infection with CMV virus. In the US, between 50% and 85% of the population have had a CMV virus by the time they are 40 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Once a person has had a CMV infection, the virus is usually inactive in the body. The problem is that it can be reactivated in people who have weakened immune systems, for example in patients with HIV or in connection with transplantation.
Thomas Kledal, MD of Inagen says: "There are major expenses associated with the treatment of the disease itself, and at the same time it is the largest infectious cause of congenital brain damage. So there are substantial social costs."
Inagen aims to develop a drug which can eliminate the infection by utilizing the fact that the virus creates certain proteins on the surface of infected cells, which act to prevent the body's immune defence systems from attacking the cell. Inagen's counter-strategy is to make these proteins into 'antennae' which can guide antiviral agents specifically to these cells while avoiding healthy cells.