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24 October, 2011 - 07:17 By News Desk

Biotica breakthough in Hepatitis C virus

Biotica advance in HCV control

Biotica has identified a potential research breakthrough in the area of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.

It It has backed its confidence with a patent application and believes it is operating in clear space to commercialise the findings. The company, based at Chesterford Research Park near Cambridge UK, discovers and develops polyketide therapeutics.

It has announced the publication of a peer-reviewed article in Medicinal Chemistry Communications and of a patent application describing  Sangamides, a new class of cyclophilin-inhibiting host-targeted antivirals for treatment of HCV.

Biotica says that sangamides offer the potential of treating Hepatitis C, without the use of interferon, as a key component of combination therapy. Sangamides are derivatives of Sanglifehrin A, a naturally-occurring polyketide, which bind and inhibit the activity of cyclophilins.

HCV recruits cyclophilins from its host cell at several stages in its replication cycle; hence cyclophilin inhibition prevents viral replication with a high barrier to selection of resistance, and is a viable, host-targeted, mechanism of action (MoA) to treat HCV infection.

The current standard of care treatment for HCV is the well-established combination therapy of interferon-alpha (a protein therapeutic immune stimulant) and ribavirin (a broad spectrum anti-viral).

This protocol has serious side effects and shortfalls in efficacy. SoC only achieves a sustained clearance and virological response (SVR) rate of 45 per cent in HCV genotype 1 (the predominant genotype of the virus in the United States).

Also, the chronic side effects derived from the interferon-alpha dose (fatigue, influenza-like symptoms, etc.), present compliance issues for patients over the 48-week course.

Phillipe Gallay, Professor of Immunology at Scripps Research Institute and co-author of the peer review article, said: “Similar to the evolution of HIV treatment; it is clear that combination therapy will become the solution for the treatment of HCV. Biotica’s compounds have the desired characteristics to provide a key component of an interferon-alpha free combination treatment.”

Edward Hodgkin, CEO of Biotica added: “Recent years have seen growing interest in compounds with new mechanisms of action that may treat HCV as part of an interferon-free regime.

“The Sangamides provide a new class of chemistry for the relatively under-exploited mechanism of cyclophilin inhibition, with clear advantages over cyclosporine-based cyclophilin inhibitors. The published patent application indicates that we’re operating in clear commercial space, and we plan to announce our drug candidate in the near future.”

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