NEW YORK, Aug. 1, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- SIGA Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq:SIGA) today announced that it has selected a lead candidate for its dengue fever antiviral program. "Identifying a lead candidate is an early but crucial step in a long journey to develop a dengue fever drug," said Dr. Dennis E. Hruby, SIGA's Chief Scientific Officer. "Our new, orally bioavailable lead candidate compound appears to have a novel mechanism of action against all four serotypes of dengue virus in vitro at the nanomolar level, and to demonstrate efficacy in mouse models. Having selected a lead preclinical candidate compound, we intend to start scale-up and formulation work as we pursue Investigational New Drug (IND)-enabling studies." Dr. Eric A. Rose, SIGA's Chief Executive Officer, added, "Tens of millions of people around the world contract some form of dengue fever each year, and the geographic reach of the disease appears to be expanding. Even the United States is not immune, with cases documented in three states over the last decade. Ultimately, we believe our work could benefit millions of people, including those living in regions where dengue is endemic, travelers to those regions, and commercial or military personnel deployed in those areas. The recent outbreaks of dengue fever in Africa and Asia underscore the need for an effective antiviral to treat this debilitating disease." Research reported in this release was partially supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01AI093356. The content of this press release does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. ABOUT DENGUE VIRUS Dengue fever (DF) is an acute febrile disease, which is characterized by a sudden onset of fever and an abnormally high internal body temperature. One of four closely related virus serotypes (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, and DENV-4) can cause DF. Dengue fever can be classified as classical dengue fever, severe dengue, which includes the life threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever syndrome (DHF), or dengue shock syndrome (DSS). Dengue virus is a member of the Flaviviridae family, which are enveloped, positive-sense RNA viruses whose human pathogens also include West Nile virus, yellow fever virus, Japanese encephalitis virus and tick-borne encephalitis virus, among others. Dengue virus may be transmitted via the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is found in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world. Each year, regional epidemics of dengue fever cause significant morbidity and mortality. Regional epidemics also cause social disruption and substantial economic burden in affected areas, in terms of increased hospitalization rates and necessary mosquito control. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that forty percent of the world's population are at risk for dengue fever, dengue hemorrhagic fever syndrome, and dengue shock syndrome. There are no approved antivirals or vaccines for the treatment or prevention of dengue fever.