Nelson, New Zealand – 01 February 2024 – Ground-breaking New Zealand biotech start-up, Kimer Med, has kicked off a capital raise to complete pre-clinical studies on its broad-spectrum antivirals, ahead of phase 1 clinical trials.
The company has spent the past three years working on the fabrication, purification and optimisation of a family of antiviral compounds made from fusion proteins, which it says will be able to treat a wide range of viral diseases.
“We’ve achieved some key milestones in the past six months, and the time has come to raise the funds to get the first of these vital drugs to the next phase,” says Kimer Med co-founder and CEO, Rick Kiessig.
“After confirming our antiviral’s method of action, and getting some early results against priority viruses, we’ve optimised our formulations to improve factors such as stability and yield, which will pay huge dividends down the track”, says Kiessig.
It’s been a busy six months for the Nelson-based start-up, which announced 100% positive test results against the priority viruses Dengue and Zika in June 2023. An Ārohia Trailblazer Seed Grant from Callaghan Innovation followed in July – funding that Kiessig says has since been put to good use to establish Kimer Med’s IP position.
“We’ve also engaged with a number of local and overseas science partners to carry out further antiviral testing, plan our in vivo studies, deal with regulatory requirements, and make sure we have everything in place as we move towards phase one clinical trials,” says Kiessig.
The company plans to progress its lead compound as an antiviral treatment for Dengue fever, a painful and sometimes deadly disease that infects hundreds of millions of people each year, and an untapped market potentially worth billions of dollars.
Dengue is a top 10 global health concern, with case numbers increasing at a higher rate than any other communicable disease. Already endemic throughout most of Asia and South America, Dengue will “take off” in southern Europe, USA and Africa in this decade, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Around half of the world’s population is currently at risk of the mosquito-borne virus, which is the leading cause of death in some Latin American and Asian countries. Also known as “break-bone fever” because of the intense pain it causes, there is still no specific antiviral available to treat Dengue fever.
“A treatment for Dengue is really just the first step for us,” says Kiessig. “There are more than two hundred other viral infections that afflict humans, and there are still no antivirals for 95% of them.”
“We have an amazing opportunity here to relieve the tremendous pain and suffering caused by viral diseases. I can’t imagine anything more important, exciting or impactful.”