A Nelson-based biotechnology company is expanding its antiviral research in a new laboratory, in a bid to develop medication to tackle future pandemics.
Kimer Med was developing a broad-spectrum antiviral medication that would target viruses in both animals and humans, including coronavirus, influenza, HIV and dengue fever among others.
It has signed an agreement with Cawthron Institute to lease lab space in the new Te Wero Aro-anamata facility in Stoke.
Kimer Med chief executive Rick Kiessig said the company was outsourcing some of its research and development to New Zealand universities and overseas biotech companies but would now be able to do more research in Nelson.
It was looking to hire more staff – including a lab manager and biomedical researcher.
The research is centred on developing a broad-spectrum antiviral medication VTose® using large molecule recombinant protein technology.
This was a different approach from other available antivirals, which were based on small molecules and usually virus-specific.
If successful, the resulting drug could be used against current viral disease and emerging pandemic threats due to its ability to treat a broad range of viral infections.
Kiessig said Kimer Med was formed after research carried out at Massachusetts Institute of Technology found a recombinant protein to be effective against a number of different viruses.
Earlier this year, Kimer Med received a project grant from Callaghan Innovation for up to $150,000 of its eligible research and development costs over the next two years.
Cawthon’s Te Wero Aro-aramata supervisor Michael Scott said he was delighted by the agreement and how it aligned with Cawthron’s values.
“We are excited to be able to assist Kimer Med make further scientific advances in this area.”