Early results from an ongoing clinical trial have shown that the drug merimepodib is safe, well-tolerated and effective in treating hepatitis C..
Merimepodib inhibits the enzyme inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase and appears to enhance the antiviral activity of ribavirin. Vertex Pharmaceuticals is developing the drug.
The trial involves 31 patients with hepatitis C genotype 1 who did not respond to treatment with interferon alfa and ribavirin. Six months after giving the patients merimepodib, pegylated interferon and ribavirin or a placebo, the researchers found that the new drug did not cause any serious side effects and produced a statistically significant antiviral response in combination with the other drugs.
The complete trial, which is being conducted in Europe, will evaluate the effects of merimepodib in the participants over 12 months with a follow-up six months after treatment.
Despite the small size of the study, lead researcher Dr. Patrick Marcellin, a medical professor at the University of Paris, said his team is encouraged by the early results.
"The main goal of hepatitis C virus treatment is to clear the virus from patients," said Marcellin. "The addition of merimepodib to a standard-of-care regimen appears to increase the proportion of treatment-refractory patients who show a viral response at six months, representing a clinically important finding."
Other sources: Vertex Pharmaceuticals