Canopus BioPharma studies use of statins for treating flu

28 May 2009

Canopus BioPharma Inc. (OTCPK: CBIA) has commissioned a team of experts led by Dr Akihiro Shimosaka, to assist with its plans for major collaborations to license, manufacture and distribute its H1N1 Swine flu statin antiviral.

The company says the team is in negotiations with the Office of Disease Control and Emergency Response, the CDC and the SFDA in China with a view to initiating large scale clinical trials and gaining marketing approval on behalf of Canopus BioPharma.

Canopus has patented and developed novel aerosol formulations of the widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs statins, which Canopus has proved effective against all previous pandemic strains of influenza. This formulation will provide a new approach to combat the recent threat of a Swine flu pandemic.

The objective of Canopus’ newly appointed scientific and commercial panel is to launch aerosol statin formulations as viable antiviral medications to target all strains of influenza.

“We believe that statins hold the key to mass treatment of influenza pandemics in humans. It is also expected that this aerosol formulation will demonstrate a high degree of efficacy against H1N1 Swine flu, as it is a broad spectrum influenza antiviral, having shown efficacy against not only H1N1, H3N2, and H5N1, but also against equine influenza, H3N8 in separate animal studies,” said Patrick Prendergast, Chairman and CEO of Canopus BioPharma.

Canopus’ new statin formulation has proven to be as effective as Roche’s Tamiflu, the current prescribed medication for influenza infection, in a number of Canopus BioPharma sponsored animal studies.

There is a need for novel anti-influenza antivirals to overcome the development of drug resistance associated with current prescription antiviral medications for influenza. Also, the effectiveness of Tamiflu is undermined when administered more than 48 hours after infection. Findings published in 2005 noted that four out of eight patients treated for influenza infection in Vietnam died despite the use of Tamiflu1 [4]. However Canopus’ statin formulation maintains its efficacy even when administered 48 hours post infection.

Statins are the most commonly prescribed drugs worldwide and due to their low toxicity can be administered as a prophylactic. There is a considerable amount of support for the use of statins as an influenza remedy. In 2007, it was found that statins dramatically reduced the risk of influenza deaths[2]. A global influenza expert noted that statins may improve outcomes in influenza patients; statins are inexpensive, can be stockpiled and would be available on the first pandemic day[3].

Research carried out by Canopus during the past five years, both in the USA and China, identified statins as a powerful and effective formulation for the prevention and treatment of influenza infections, in particular H1N1, H5N1 and H3N2. H1N1 (Spanish Influenza) and H3N2 (Hong Kong Influenza) were the strains responsible for the pandemics in 1918 and 1968 respectively, which claimed millions of lives.

H5N1 is the strain responsible for the 2005 outbreak of avian influenza. Statin formulations significantly reduces influenza viral load and prevents lung tissue damage by lowering the expression of cytokines. The ‘cytokine storm’ is responsible for severe inflammation, a major cause of mortality among influenza patients.

In view of the recent pandemic threat, Canopus BioPharma appreciates the urgency for the development of new influenza treatments and believes this team of industry experts can improve on Canopus’ efforts to date.

Dr Prendergast further commented, “Canopus has been dedicated to influenza research for the past five years which highlights the foresight and vision of our research team. We are excited by the possibilities and opportunities brought to us by expanding Canopus’ team in China and South-east Asia, and are eager to launch aerosol statins as a much needed alternative for influenza prevention and treatment.”


1. New England Journal of Medicine, 2005; 353(25):2667-2672.

2. American College of Chest Physicians 2007; 13:1006-1012.

3. Lancet Infectious Diseases, 2008; 8(9):571-576.

4. Infections with Oseltamivir-Resistant Influenza A (H1N1) Virus in the US. JAMA, 2009; 301(10):1034-1041.

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