News from Hepatitis Week of Jan. 5, 2003 / Vol. 3 No. 01

Clinical Testing of New Oral Hepatitis C Protease Inhibitor to Begin Later This Year

Vertex Pharmaceuticals plans to begin Phase I clinical testing of its new oral hepatitis C viral (HCV) protease inhibitor, VX-950, in the second half of 2003.

VX-950 is a small molecule protease inhibitor from a new class of antiviral drugs that inhibit hepatitis C NS3-4A protease, an enzyme considered essential for HCV viral replication.

VX-950 has shown potent antiviral activity and promising pharmacological properties in preclinical testing that began in early 2002.

"Drugs such as VX-950 could usher in a significant treatment advance and provide a medical breakthrough for patients with HCV," said Dr. John Alam, a senior vice president at Vertex.

Alam said Vertex expects to publish key data on Vertex's HCV protease compounds in the second half of 2003. "We also anticipate that Vertex's ongoing HCV protease inhibitor discovery program will produce an additional drug candidate in 2003 suitable for clinical development," he said.

Other sources: Vertex Pharmaceuticals