NIH funds the development of the first drug to treat Molluscum Contagiosum

Robert Ricciardi, PhD who is the scientific founder of Viraze, is the PI on a University of Pennsylvania SBIR-NIH grant that was co-awarded to the Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center (FCCDC).  This three year grant that will further the development of a novel antiviral for the treatment of molluscum contagiosum (MC), a highly contagious skin disease caused by the poxvirus, molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV).   MCV produces skin lesions, mainly in children and immunocompromised individuals. MCV can be transmitted easily by direct skin contact and indirect contact with objects, such as towels.  The lesions are painful and can last months and cause psychological distress.  Since there are no successful drugs that are FDA approved, lesions are either treated with chemicals or physically removed, which is especially painful to children.

Up to the present, a MC specific drug has not been produced because the virus fails to grow in tissue culture cells, which is a requirement for compound screening.  The Ricciardi lab, along with UPenn colleague Stuart Isaacs MD, have found a work-around solution to this roadblock by developing a hybrid virus that expresses the MCV protein target.  Through collaboration with the UPenn lab of Todd Ridky MD, the hybrid virus infection is blocked in human 3D skin cultures, which mimics human skin.  The FCCDC team, headed by CEO Allen Reitz PhD and Rick Scott PhD are generating optimized Lead compounds for increasing the potency and safety of the hybrid virus in the human 3D skin cultures.

Treatment of MC, represents a market opportunity of about $400 million in the United States.

About Molluscum Contagiosum (MC)

Molluscum contagiosum is a common skin disease caused by the virus MCV. It is caused by a virus. This virus easily spreads from person to person through skin-to-skin contact or by sharing towns and clothing. Often the only sign of molluscum is pink or flesh-colored bumps on the skin and can appear anywhere. Most people get about 10 to 20 bumps on their skin. Whenever you can see the bumps on the skin, molluscum contagiosum is contagious.

Source: American Academy of Dermatology

About ViRAZE

ViRAZE is an emerging biotechnology company utilizing a patented high throughput screening (HTS) technology to discover and develop first-in-class new small molecules to treat viral diseases.  Please visit our website for further information:

About Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center (FCCDC)

Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center, Inc., (FCCDC) founded in 2008, is an emerging biotechnology company located in Doylestown, PA whose mission is to advance our clients’ basic scientific discoveries by providing value-added early drug discovery and medicinal chemistry research support for the translation of viable preclinical drug and diagnostic candidates prior to eventual entry into human clinical trials.  For additional information, please visit


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