Rhinoviruses are small positive-sense, non-enveloped RNA viruses that are the major cause of upper respiratory infection, i.e. the common cold, in all age groups. The incubation period is 2 to 3 days and acute symptoms last for 3 to 7 days. The common cold costs the U.S. economy $40 billion a year in treatments and lost workdays. There are approximately 500 million colds each year in the U.S. Cold suffers visit their physician more than 100 million times a year at a cost of at least $7.7 billion. The biggest economic cost is with lost workdays costing $22.5 billion. In addition, the multitude of physician visits and prescribing of antibiotics, which are not effective against viral agents, is problematic exacerbating the development of antibiotic resistant pathogens. Rhinoviruses enter cells via attachment to Intracellular Adhesion Molecule –1 (ICAM-1). The viral capsid is made up of capsid subunits VP1, VP2, and VP3 proteins. These proteins form a canyon region that binds the ICAM-1 receptor.
The difficulty with generating vaccines or therapeutic antibodies against rhinoviruses is that there are 102 accepted, classified serotypes with potentially more that have yet to be classified. Despite the multitude of serotypes, all rhinoviruses interact with ICAM-1 implying some conserved functional motif that is not targetable via conventional approaches. BMI’s Immune Dampening and Refocusing Technology can address the multiple serotype issue such that broadly reactive immune responses and therapeutic antibodies can be made. BMI’s rhinovirus program parallels its veterinary program in Foot and Mouth Disease Virus, a highly related picornavirus.