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Metabasis, Roche in hepatitis C deal
September 2008
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SAN DIEGOŚMetabasis Therapeutics Inc. and Roche have entered into a two-year research collaboration agreement to develop new treatments for hepatitus C virus (HCV).
 
Under the agreement, Metabasis will apply its HepDirect liver-targeting technology to Roche's proprietary lead nucleosides. Roche will provide a $10 million upfront payment.

In the event a development candidate is identified, Roche will assume development responsibility, and Metabasis will be eligible to receive up to $193 million in additional payments upon achievement of predetermined preclinical and clinical development events, as well as regulatory and commercialization events for each product. For any marketed products that result from the collaboration, Roche will retain full commercial rights and pay Metabasis a royalty on net sales.

Dr. Mark Erion, Metabasis' chief scientific officer and executive vice president of Research and Development, says the partnership with Roche combines each company's strengths in liver targeting and HCV research with the hope of it leading to a HCV drug candidate in the near future.

"The HepDirect technology has shown significant promise in delivering the activated form of certain antiviral nucleosides to the liver and therefore has the potential to both enhance the antiviral activity of these nucleosides, as well as to lower the effective dose," Erion says.

HCV, an infection of the liver from a virus, is a highly infectious and potentially fatal disease contracted through blood and bodily fluid contact. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are more than 170 million people infected with HCV worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HCV is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the United States, with annual deaths due to complications from this disease currently around 10,000 and expected to triple by 2010. Liver failure due to chronic HCV is the leading cause of liver transplantation today. DDN

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