Friday, February 11, 2011

Potent New Hepatitis C Drug: First Clinical Trials Successfully Complete

The first clinical trials on a new investigational drug being developed to treat infections caused by Hepatitis C virus have been successfully completed. Completion of the initial phase (phase 1a) of trials of INX-189, discovered and first prepared by researchers at Cardiff University's Welsh School of Pharmacy in 2008, means the chances of it becoming an approved medicine have significantly improved.
In 2008, laboratory tests showed INX-189 killed 90 per cent of the virus at very low (nanomolar) concentration, making it the most potent compound of its kind developed to date.
US pharmaceutical company Inhibitex, which owns the licence to INX-189 and has been working with the Cardiff team, has announced it is looking forward to a second trial (phase 1b), which would evaluate the compound's effectiveness in Hepatitis C patients. Cardiff University and Inhibitex filed a patent on INX-189 earlier this year. It has been cleared for human clinical trials by the Food and Drug Administration in the US.
Approximately 170 million people worldwide are affected with Hepatitis C, which can lead to liver cancer, cirrhosis and death. It is the leading cause of liver transplantation in western countries. The current treatment involves two drugs -- ribavirin and interferon, which has to be given as an injection. Side effects are often severe and lead to patients failing to complete the treatment. The development of a vaccine holds the promise of largely circumventing such measures, on a wide scale.

-Catalina Angel
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