Aethlon Medical has completed multiple milestone achievements under a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), including a milestone validation that the Aethlon Hemopurifier is able to capture the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The Hemopurifier is a first-in-class medical device designed to rapidly eliminate viral pathogens from the circulatory system of infected individuals. The MERS-CoV milestone was predicated on demonstrating the capture of the virus with small-scale versions of the Aethlon Hemopurifier.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is an illness caused by MERS-CoV infection. The virus was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has since spread to several other countries, including the United States. Most people identified as infected with MERS-CoV develop severe acute respiratory illness, including fever, cough and shortness of breath. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 1,806 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection, resulting in 643 deaths. There is no vaccine or antiviral drug to treat MERS-CoV.
The Hemopurifier is currently being advanced in FDA approved studies as a broad-spectrum treatment countermeasure against infectious viral pathogens. Unlike disease-specific drugs or vaccines, the Hemopurifier has been demonstrated to capture different strains, species and families of viral pathogens through human and in vitro validation studies. The Company plans to continue studies of high-threat viruses not yet validated as a means to fulfill the broad-spectrum medical countermeasure goal of the 2015 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasure Enterprise (PHEMCE) Strategy and Implementation Plan. See below for additional information on PHEMCE.
"The accomplishment of this this and other DARPA milestones further reinforces our belief that the Hemopurifier is the most advanced broad-spectrum candidate to treat the many life-threatening viruses that are not addressed with antiviral drugs," stated Jim Joyce, Chairman and CEO of Aethlon Medical.
Beyond the MERS-CoV milestone, Aethlon reported that it achieved all 29 milestone opportunities that were provided to the Company through DARPA's Dialysis-Like Therapeutics (DLT) program, resulting in earned revenues of $5,935,996 over the 5-year program. The milestones contributed to enhance Hemopurifier manufacturing processes and capabilities, expanded the broad-spectrum virus capture validations of the Hemopurifier, including the simultaneous capture of multiple viral pathogens; and demonstrated the ability of the Hemopurifier to capture bacterial toxins, which could potentially expand therapeutic market opportunities to include the treatment of virulent and drug resistant bacterial infections.
Aethlon continues to operate under a systems integrator contract that was also awarded under the DARPA DLT program and the Company further disclosed that it has responded to two new U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) contract solicitation opportunities. A goal of the DLT program has been to develop a portable device that removes "dirty" blood from the body, separates harmful agents, and returns "clean" blood to the body in a manner similar to dialysis treatment of kidney failure. The resulting device could decrease the morbidity and mortality of sepsis, thereby saving thousands of lives and billions of dollars in the United States annually. Aethlon has yet to disclose its strategic plan related to the potential treatment of sepsis.