, founded in 1996 by scientists from the University of Iceland in Reykjavik
, concentrates on making pharmaceuticals and cosmetics developed from enzymes found in fish. One of the company’s medical products is Penzim, a compound first identified in the digestive system of cod which in the past has been shown to help relieve a variety of conditions including skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis. Zymetech’s managing director JÃ³n Bragi Bjarnason, said that a formulation of Penzim had been shown to destroy 99% of H5N1 avian flu
virus cells in an experimental culture within five minutes.
â€œThe results against the avian flu virus look very promising,â€ said Professor Bjarnason, who teaches biochemistry at the University of Iceland. He said he believed the enzyme could be used to help to develop an alternative to Roche’s anti-flu drug Tamiflu and other rival products. Rather than a tablet, he said the enzyme could also be developed into a spray for use as a topical anti-flu disinfectant. The report by Retroscreen Virology said such a product â€œwould be ideal for use in poultry farms or quarantine units to prevent species-to-species transmission of the virus. In addition, healthcare workers, research scientists and those handling infected animals would benefit.â€
Zymetech is currently seeking to raise up to $30 million to help further develop Penzim as a pharmaceutical product and conduct initial clinical trials.