US company ContraVir Pharmaceuticals, Inc have begun the final clinical trial of FV-100, a powerful antiviral agent developed in part by Chris McGuigan, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at Cardiff. This is the last hurdle before the drug is approved for use.
Over three million people around the world are affected by shingles on an annual basis. In the mid-1990s, researchers led by Professor McGuigan discovered an entirely new family of antivirals – the bicyclic nucleoside analogues (BCNAs). Working in conjunction with researchers in Leuven, Belgium, the team found BCNAs to be active agents against the Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) – the cause of human chickenpox and shingles.
Professor Chris McGuigan said: “FV-100 has been developed thanks to an ethos of international innovation at Cardiff. We worked with Professor Jan Balzarini from the Rega Institute of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, to conduct virology tests when the new antivirals were first developed. Cardiff took the lead to exploit the potent anti-VZV BCNA agents, to license the patents, and to develop FV-100.”
The latest clinical trial will take place across 200 centres in the US, analysing more than 800 patients over a seven-day period, followed up over four months.
Estimates suggest more than three million cases of shingles in the U.S., Europe, and Japan each year, primarily in the aging adult population. Symptoms include localized lesions and pain.
Professor McGuigan added: “FV-100 has demonstrated the potential to reduce the incidence of debilitating shingles-associated pain known as post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). Trialled and brought to market, the drug could bring relief to millions of shingle sufferers around the world.”