A monoclonal antibody developed by MassBiologics of the University of
Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) and tested in an animal model at
the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, prevents infection by the
hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Researchers found that the human monoclonal antibody targeting the
virus protected chimpanzees from HCV infection in a dose-dependent
manner in a study conducted at Texas Biomed’s Southwest National Primate
Research Center. Chimpanzees are the only species other than humans
that can be infected by HCV and therefore the results from this study
were critical in the development of the monoclonal antibody.
The new report by scientists from MassBiologics; Texas Biomed; the
National Institutes of Health (NIH); and Merck Research Laboratories,
and funded by MassBiologics and NIH, appears in the August 30th issue of PLoS Pathogens. Researchers had previously demonstrated that the
monoclonal antibody, called HCV1, blocks HCV from infecting liver cells
in laboratory tissue culture.
Much of the research into treatment has been done at the St. Louis
University Liver Center, one of the busiest liver-disease practices in
the nation. More than 1,000 visits are made to the center each year.
at the center were involved in testing a drug combination approved by
the FDA over one year ago that increased the cure rate of hepatitis C by
half or more. They are currently testing more effective regimens with
fewer side effects that are expected to become available within two
Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ACHN), the
developer of hepatitis C treatments that was passed over by
potential acquirers in the last year, is poised to draw renewed
interest after setbacks by rival drugmakers.
With the market for new hepatitis C treatments projected to
reach $20 billion by 2020 and Achillion facing no delays in two
drugs under development, Piper Jaffray Cos. and William Blair &
Co. say the $481 million company could gain fresh attention as a
takeover candidate for Merck & Co. (MRK), Roche (ROG) Holding AG and Vertex
Pharmaceuticals Inc. (VRTX) A suitor could pay a premium of as much as
79 percent to Achillion’s stock price and still acquire the New
Haven, Connecticut-based company for less than its peak market
value earlier this year, when takeovers and merger speculation
spurred a surge in hepatitis C drugmakers’ shares.
Dr. R. Palmer Beasley, an epidemiologist whose pivotal research on hepatitis B in Taiwan first linked the virus to liver cancer, died Saturday of pancreatic cancer at his home in Houston. He was 76.
His death was announced by the University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health in Houston, where he had been dean from 1987 to 2005.
Beasley made his mark in the 1970s with a series of studies that proved the cancer
link and also discovered how Asian children were infected with
hepatitis B during childbirth by their mothers who were carriers.
Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: IDIX),
announced that the Company received verbal notice from the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) that a clinical hold has been placed on
IDX19368, the Company’s next-generation nucleotide polymerase inhibitor
under development for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV)
infection. This news follows an announcement that Idenix made on August
16, 2012 related to a partial clinical hold placed on IDX184, the
Company’s lead nucleotide polymerase inhibitor also under development
for the treatment of HCV.
The FDA verbally informed Idenix that it placed IDX19368 on clinical
hold due to concerns related to the serious cardiac-related adverse
events reported for HCV patients treated with BMS-986094, a nucleotide
polymerase inhibitor previously under development by Bristol-Myers
Squibb Company. To date, no patients have been exposed to IDX19368.
By the time he was diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C, Spencer
Baker had cirrhosis so advanced that he needed a liver transplant. Then
he developed liver cancer, too.
“Here I’d decided to get my life
on track, and the doctor called and said I had terminal liver disease
because of hepatitis C,” said Baker, 56, a former gallery owner who
lives in midtown Sacramento and received a new liver in 2009.