[Ip-health] FT Magazine piece from March 2013 - Hepatitis C: the cure?

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri Dec 16 07:09:26 PST 2016


Hepatitis C: the cure?

A new drug could be the remedy that has eluded scientists and pharma for
more than 20 years. Sam Knight reports


MARCH 15, 2013

by: Sam Knight


In 1998, Schinazi set up two separate companies as vehicles for his
hepatitis C research: Idenix and Pharmasset. Both were small – with teams
of a dozen chemists or fewer – and they focused, in keeping with Schinazi’s
expertise, on trying to design nucleoside-type drugs that would interrupt
the life cycle of hepatitis C inside the liver. Alongside another class of
drugs, known as protease inhibitors, nucleoside and nucleotide analogues
had been found to be effective against HIV because they managed – a bit
like a plug in plughole – to block up “active sites” on the virus that
enabled its replication. In 2002, a young chemist at Pharmasset, called
Jeremy Clark, came up with a compound, called PSI-6130, that would bind,
very unusually, with the hepatitis C virus in two places at once. Despite
PSI-6130 having been licensed to Roche the following year, the much larger
company failed to derive a working drug from the molecule, which, several
years later, under Schinazi’s guidance at Pharmasset, turned out to be

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