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Hemispherx Announces New Publication With Potential Insight Into High Mortality Rate In Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

PHILADELPHIA, June 16, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Hemispherx Biopharma (NYSE:HEB) announced that a new publication (June 2, 2014) in the Formulary Journal ( http://formularyjournal.modernmedicine.com/formulary-journal/news/mers-interferoninnate-immune-deficiency-state-continues-surge?page=full ) suggests that the high pathogenicity of MERS may be due, in part, to an innate immune deficiency state that results secondary to inhibition of a first responder to viral infection, interferon (IFN), at an early step in MERS infection. The article, " MERS, an interferon innate immunity state, continues to surge" is authored by Hemispherx scientists and affiliates. The authors suggest that correcting the defect in immunity may be the first significant way to decrease MERS-associated mortality.

More recently, there has been a dramatic, non-Ramadan associated, increase in new cases of MERS. Ramadan will begin on June 29 th, 2014, and 19 countries have now identified MERS cases.

MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) viruses are members of the same virus family-termed coronavirus. Only MERS and SARS have high mortality rates in man as the other four human coronavirus family members are generally associated with mild, non-life-threatening, common cold symptoms. Only the MERS virus and SARS inhibit the production of a key component of human immunity, IFN. IFN has been previously established as necessary to fight off a number of otherwise lethal viral infections.

Recent Hemispherx collaborations with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), specifically National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), using human cells in culture suggest that Alferon® N may be effective either as a preventative or treatment of early MERS infection ( http://www.hemispherx.net/content/investor/default.asp?goto=781). Subsequently, similar positive inhibitory results with Alferon® N were obtained at the University of Texas ( http://www.hemispherx.net/content/investor/default.asp?goto=786).

Treatment late in the course of human highly lethal coronaviral infections (MERS/SARS) is unlikely to alter the diseases course as, by then, the host immune system has already been severely disabled. Going forward, clinical protocols will need to be established to evaluate various systemically therapeutic options rather than by isolated treatments of certain infected individuals as are currently employed.

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