Scientists at Lidak Pharmaceuticals Inc. reported that the anti-viral action of the company's patented alcohol may halt avariety of pathogenic viruses that are coated by fat-containingenvelopes.

The La Jolla, Calif., company's Lidakol, whose active ingredientis a long-chain alcohol, has completed Phase I safety testing inhumans as a topical formulation. Further testing against otherviruses will require preclinical evaluation of its effectivenessand safety when given internally, David Katz, chairman andchief executive officer, told BioWorld.

In the current Proceedings of the National Academy ofSciences, Katz and other scientists showed that the alcohol, 1-docosanol, inhibited replication of herpes viruses types I andII, and also blocked multiplication of respiratory syncytialvirus. But the alcohol failed to inhibit a virus that lacks anenvelope, the polio virus.

The alcohol appears to block entry of the viruses into cells byinterfering with the lipid components of viral coats.

"A good number of medically important (viruses) areenveloped," said Katz. The company will be looking for activityagainst retroviruses such as HIV and hepatitis C, among others,he said.

The scientists also pointed out that 1-docosanol could block invitro replication of herpes virus that had become resistant tothe anti-viral drug acyclovir.

Phase II trials of the drug as a topical treatment in herpes areexpected to start in Europe early next year under the licensingagreement that Lidak has entered into with Brocades Pharmaof the Netherlands. Brocades will have marketing rights toLidakol in Europe.

Lidak's stock (NASDAQ:LDAKA) closed at $1.88, down 6 centson Tuesday. -- Roberta Friedman, Ph.D.

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.