Anti-Hepatitis C Ribozyme Completes Normal Volunteer Safety Study, Enters Clinical Trials in Chronic Hepatitis C Patients

Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals reported on May 10 the completion of single dose safety trials of the anti-Hepatitis C ribozyme, LY 466700.  The studywas conducted by development partner Eli Lilly and found that the drug appeared to be well tolerated in the first cohort of normal volunteers. Administration of LY466700 to chronic Hepatitis C patients has now been initiated in a clinical trial designed to study safety and to assess the effect of the compound on HCV viral RNA levels following a 28 day dose-response regimen.  The drug will be administered by a daily subcutaneous injection to approximately 20 patients.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infection that was not routinely screened from the blood supply prior to 1992.  As a result of this and other methods of transmission, millions of Americans are infected and may not know it. Screening is recommended, as the infection, if untreated, may cause liver damage, cirrhoses, cancer and death.  Infection rates are high worldwide, with over 125 million individuals carrying Hepatitis C, according to the World Health Organization. 
Ribozymes are synthetically engineered to act as "molecular scissors" capable of cleaving target RNA in a highly specific manner. The drug was designed to cleave a highly conserved region of the HCV gene, one that the virus needs to survive its viral life cycle. The company says when this section of the virus is cut, as ribozymes were designed to do, the virus dies and is unable to produce more virus. As with all other drugs, many drugs do not survive clinical trials. Unexpected toxicities, side effects, or other barriers to development can emerge. But let's keep our hopes high for success.

SOURCE Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
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