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An Anti-Viral Polypeptide: Griffithsin

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The NCI seeks licensing and/or co-development research collaborations for anti-viral Griffithsin (GRFT) proteins.
NIH Reference Number
Product Type
  • Griffithsin, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS, O'Keefe
Collaboration Opportunity
This invention is available for licensing and co-development.
Description of Technology

Virus entry into a susceptible host cell is the first step in the formation of all viral diseases. Controlling viral infections by disrupting viral entry is advantageous for antibody-mediated neutralization by the host’s immune system and as a preventive and therapeutic antiviral strategy. Plant-derived carbohydrate-binding proteins (lectins) have emerged as a new class of antiviral biologics by taking advantage of a unique glycosylation pattern only found on the surface of viruses.

This technology describes the lectin, Griffithsin (GRFT), isolated from red algae. GRFT shows significant broad-spectrum anti-viral activity making it a promising agent for use as a general microbicide that can prevent viral transmission and as a therapeutic against enveloped virus-mediated diseases.  The patent rights for this technology cover the sequence of the GRFT polypeptide as well as several GRFT variants mutated to render them glycosylation-resistant. The patent rights also cover GRFT conjugates, compositions, nucleic acids, vectors, host cells, antibodies and methods of their production and methods of use.  The broad spectrum anti-viral activity of GRFT has been attributed to its ability to inhibit viral binding, fusion and entry into the host cells by binding to viral envelope gp120.  GRFT has potential as a therapeutic or prophylactic for retroviral infections including HIV-1 and HIV-2 as well as FIV, SIV, MLV, BLV, equine infectious virus, avian sarcoma viruses, and HTLV. In addition, Griffithsin could be used in combination with other anti-viral agents to treat patients who have drug-resistant virus.

A related NCI invention, reference number E-025-2006, further covers the use of Griffithsin against viral infection including Hepatitis C, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), H5N1, or Ebola.

Researchers at the NCI seek licensing and/or co-development research collaborations  for anti-viral Griffithsin (GRFT) proteins. Issued patents include US 7,884,178US 8,394,764, with foreign rights in Canada, Australia, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, United Kingdom (all granted).

Potential Commercial Applications
  • Microbicide that can prevent viral transmission
  • Therapeutic against enveloped virus-mediated diseases
Competitive Advantages
  • Highly Potent Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Lectin
  • Superior in vitro and in vivo antiviral activity with minimum host toxicity against a variety of clinically relevant, enveloped viruses

Barry R. OKeefe (NCI), James McMahon, Toshiyuki Mori (NCI)

Development Stage

Mori T. et al., Isolation and characterization of griffithsin, a novel HIV-inactivating protein, from the red alga Griffithsia sp. [PMID 15613479]

Giomarelli B, et al. Recombinant production of anti-HIV protein, griffithsin, by auto-induction in a fermentor culture [PMID: 16300962]

Patent Status
  • U.S. Patent Issued: U.S. Patent Number 7,884,178 , Filed 01 Jun 2005, Issued 08 Feb 2011
  • U.S. Patent Issued: U.S. Patent Number US 8,394,764, Filed 11 Feb 2011, Issued 13 Feb 2013
Therapeutic Area
Thursday, July 8, 2021