Inhibitex starts trial for oral Hep C drug

U.S.-based Inhibitex has started human trials for a potent new hepatitis C drug that killed 90 percent of the virus in preclinical tests. The therapy, called INX-189, was first developed at the Welsh School of Pharmacy at Cardiff University in 2008 and licensed to Inhibitex, which filed a patent for the drug earlier this year. FDA regulators have cleared the drug for human trials.

The current treatment for hepatitis C is a combination of ribavirin and interferon, which is injected and can have undesirable side effects. About half of all hepatitis C patients can't take existing therapies while the other half consumes $2 billion a year in drugs. The oral formulation of INX-189 as well as fewer side effects make the drug an improvement over existing options.

Professor Chris McGuigan of the Welsh School of Pharmacy tells the BBC that, while the drug is still in the earliest stages of testing, early results look promising. "We believe that INX-189 offers the possibility of more potency against hepatitis, more rapid action in the liver, and fewer side effects than existing treatments." An estimated 170 million people worldwide suffer from the disease, which is a leading cause of liver transplants.

- read this BBC News report for more