19 Feb Alpharetta Biotech company Ennaid Therapeutics Working on Zika cure.
By JONATHAN COPSEY
The Zika Virus is officially a global health emergency, and health officials are working on containing and curing the mosquito-borne illness.
One group working toward this goal is Ennaid Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical firm based in Alpharetta and working on developing a cure for Zika.
Darnisha Grant Harrison is the founder and CEO of the company, which is just over three years old. She said the company is working on a cure for several mo~quito-borne diseases, including· dengue and Zika.
With the recent elevation of Zika to an emergency, Harrison said her company has fast-tracked Zika and could have something out in two or three years.
“It’s a global problem,” she said. ‘We were originally focused on dengue, but now we are looking at Zika because there is such a negative aftermath, more so than with dengue.”
The Virus is carried largely by mosquitoes and transmitted by bite, although it has been confirmed to be transmitted via sexual intercourse as well.
Of particular concern is that pregnant women with the virus have given birth to babies with microcephaly, or small heads and brains.
In 2014 in Brazil, 150 babies were born with microcephaly.
The next year, there were more than 2,700. and these were thought to be caused by the Zika virus. More than l million cases have now been confirmed around the world, including in the U.S.
The issue is further complicated by the fact that most people do not show symptoms of having contracted Zika.
Ennaid Therapeutics works on therapeutic cures.
This is different than vaccines. Harrison likened it to having your house on fire. Do you want the fire inspector or the fire department to come? The inspector’s job is to stop the fire from happening in the first place; the fire department is there to put out the fire once it’s started.
‘We put out the disease once you get it,” she said.
Harrison said vaccines and therapeutic drugs must be used in tandem in the health world to work properly.
This was recently understood after the measles outbreak last year. There has been a measles vaccine for decades but no cure once someone contracts it.
“We mustn’t just help prevent people from getting sick, but also must help treat diseases once people have them,” she said.
Previously located in Buckhead, Ennaid Therapeutics was relocated to Alpharetta because Harrison was attracted to Alpharetta’s technology culture and the number of tech companies in the city.
“We love the support and, with the number of companies here, collaborations are possible,” she said. And many of the industries in or around Alpharetta- hotels, tourism, health care – can be heavily impacted by a disease such as Zika.
‘There is hope for a Zika virus cure and an Alpharetta-based company could be bringing this hope,” Hamson said.AlpharettaRoswellHearld_021816