In a globally-connected world, viruses can spread quickly. From influenza to dengue fever to herpes to HIV, viral contagions can spread at an alarming pace. Trouble is, doctors researching these viruses, known as virologists, have found it quite difficult to identify permanent cures. For example, even though doctors completely understand how the flu virus works, millions of people still come down with a flu bug every year. And in some instances, the flu can have fatal consequences.
But little-known NanoViricides Inc (OTCBB:NNVC) may have “cracked the code” when it comes to viruses. The company still has a lot to prove, as is the case with any young biotech stock that trades for around $1. But it appears to be making progress, and if it can deliver on at least one of its several drugs in development, then the upside could be significant.
Though the company has been around since 2005, the past year has been quite eventful, and NanoViricides Inc (OTCBB:NNVC) is seeing increasing trading volume and a rising share price.
Here’s a quick timeline of NanoViricides Inc (OTCBB:NNVC)’ recent progress:
— November 2012: The company hires Bioanalytical Systems (NASDAQ: BASI) to conduct safety studies for its influenza drug, FluCide. The design of the study had previously been approved by the FDA. In late 2012, the company also identified a facility and management group that will oversee the construction of production lines that will provide a high volume of drugs to be used in clinical trials. The facility is expected to be ready by late 2013 or early 2014.
— January 2013: Early pre-clinical trials produce efficacy results that are stronger than Roche Holding’s (OTC: RHHBY) Tamiflu, the current most popular flu vaccine available for sale.
— February 2013: The company completes a $6 million capital raise, and along with $5 million raised in 2012, said it believes it has enough cash on hand to fund operations through the end of 2014 while pursuing initial human clinical trials.
— June 2013: The company files for orphan drug status with the FDA for its DengueCide drug to treat dengue fever and receives that designation from the FDA in mid-August. A similar application with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is filed in July, and EMA approval is granted in September.
— June 2013: The Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, a biomedical research organization with 1,200 employees and 150 PhDs, agrees to conduct clinical studies for NanoViricides Inc (OTCBB:NNVC)’ flu drug, as well as a drug that is aimed at the MERS virus (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus).
Though NanoViricides Inc (OTCBB:NNVC) believes that a wide range of viruses can be treated with its biotechnology, influenza and dengue fever clearly stand out as key areas of focus for the company in the near term.
What kind of market opportunities are we looking at? Well, Tamiflu has proven to be popular for treating influenza, with a potential annual revenue opportunity exceeding $3 billion, according to Influmedix.com.
There is no current cure for dengue fever, nor can we glean a market size for a drug that treats it. But the World Health Organization believes there may be 50 million to 100 million dengue infections worldwide every year.
To be sure, this small company also carries considerable risk. Many drugs that appear quite promising in small-scale tests fail to deliver solid safety and efficacy data as clinical trials grow larger. Indeed, the vast majority of early stage drugs fail, and NNVC’s stock price would plunge sharply if that were to happen.