Every year, 150 people die from Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis). About 2,000 are hospitalized, with hospital costs exceeding $200M/yr in Arizona and California alone. About 50,000 people a year are symptomatic, many of them seriously so. Not all of these cases are diagnosed, but we know that over 10,000 cases are reported each year in Arizona (90 per 100,000 in 2013). A yearly average of about 20,000 people have severe disease that would benefit from better treatment. Several thousand have no practical solution, as the available drugs do not help them, or the side effects of current drugs are too onerous.
Lost work time and suffering are additional costs. A greater impact is seen for some minorities. Valley Fever also infects 160K pets, especially dogs. We are looking at a potential partner, possible pet revenues in 2017
60% of all US infections occur in the 100 miles between Phoenix and Tucson. Most of the rest is clustered in the southern Central Valley of California, particularly Bakersfield and Kern County. This means that efforts to treat the disease can be very focused, requiring a rather small sales force. The bulk of known cases are in the US.
The sensitivity of tests for early detection could be greatly improved. We have identified potential markers that could form the basis for a companion diagnostic. We welcome support for this effort.
Current standard-of-care treatments only arrest the cocci infection, but do not cure. Particularly among the very sick, 60% of patients are unresponsive. The current favored, and in fact only available, treatments have many side effects. Reliable animal models, that are highly predictive of human effects for existing drugs for Valley Fever, show NikZ is fungicidal. From this and other studies, we observe at most minimal side effects. This is very promising for further study of NikZ, and we hope rapid approval.