US-based group Chimerix has this week been granted a US patent for its CMX001 drug - which could provide a dramatic improvement over the only available smallpox treatment on the market.
CMX001, which is an orally available phosphonate drug, has been developed for the prevention and treatment of smallpox infection, as well as complications resulting from the smallpox vaccination.
The technology covered in the patent includes novel phosphonate and phosphonate-containing compounds, methods for production of the compounds, and methods for the treatment of a variety of medical disorders using the compounds.
The development of CMX001 was funded by a $36 million Biodefence Partnership grant from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, reflecting the importance placed on finding a treatment for the disease by the US authorities.
The technology covered in the patent was invented by Dr Karl Hostetler, professor of medicine at the University of California, which shares the patent with Chimerix. The patent grants worldwide exclusive rights to Chimerix for commercialisation of the modified phosphonate compounds described in the patent.
The drug is a derivative of the nucleotide phosphonate drug cidofovir, which itself can be used to treat smallpox, whose producer Gilead Sciences will receive royalties based on a percentage of CMX001 net sales.
CMX001 major advantage is its potency compared to cidofovir, Chimerix claims. The drug and other compounds inclusive in the patent are absorbed well after oral dosing - a weakness of cidofovir - are less toxic, and exhibit enhanced antiviral potency in cell culture assays, the company said.
In three different models of poxvirus disease, CMX001 was shown to be 100 per cent effective in preventing poxvirus-induced mortality after oral dosing.
George Painter, president and CEO of Chimerix said: "There is a widely recognised need for a safe oral drug therapy for smallpox infection to complement the smallpox vaccination programme.
"The technologies covered in this patent allow Chimerix to develop and market CMX001 worldwide for the treatment of smallpox and complications resulting from the smallpox vaccine."