SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Of the roughly 300 viruses infectious to humans, only nine have approved treatments. Billions of dollars have been spent trying to find individual anti-viral treatments, but with little success.
It's a challenge Jim Joyce, Chairman and CEO of aethlon Medical, Inc., and his team wanted to approach differently.
"I think that's the driving factor, the ability to save lives," said Joyce.
They created a device that not only treats one virus but many. It's called the Hemopurifier and it works to purify the blood of viral pathogens.
"We actually capture viruses, a broad spectrum of viruses, by the actual shield that they use to cloak themselves with from the immune system," said Joyce. "I don't think we had any idea how big the challenge would be."
His researchers have demonstrated the capture of 16 high-threat viruses including Zika, West Nile and MERS.
They've also successfully used it in the real world, treating a doctor with Ebola.
"At the time we treated him he was comatose with multiple organ failure. We treated him one time for six-and-a-half hours," said Joyce. "He came out of his coma, made a full recovery and went back to his wife and kids."
According to Joyce, there are 13 viruses that the U.S. government has deemed to be Category A threats, the most deadly pathogen threats. Of these, only Smallpox has been addressed with a treatment countermeasure in the strategic national stockpile.
If there were ever to be an outbreak of a Category A threat, Joyce says it could lead to civil unrest.
"The real sweet spot for the device is to address viruses that aren't treatable today, where there is no other approved product in the marketplace."
His team is working with the U.S. government to advance the cartridge as a countermeasure in the strategic national stockpile, while also running clinical studies.
"We have had the chance to show this could truly be effective in saving lives against very high-threat viruses," said Joyce.
They're applying for expedited FDA approval, hoping the Hemopurifier will be designated as a breakthrough technology. If that happens, they'll be able to get the device to market sooner.