12:00 AM
 | 
Nov 04, 2002
 |  BioCentury  |  Emerging Company Profile

Achillion: Something old, something new

Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. is taking a new tack on antiviral discovery, identifying zinc finger proteins required for the replication of pathogens. In doing so, the company believes it has identified a novel target for HIV and a platform that is expandable into other infectious diseases. However, Achillion also is pursuing more tried and true antiviral approaches, and thus has a nucleoside analog in Phase II testing.

The company's Zinc Finger Targeting (ZFT) technology was developed by founder and CEO William Rice when he was head of the laboratory of antiviral drug mechanisms at NIH. "We wanted a retroviral structure that didn't change," he said. "We found an HIV zinc finger motif that was a conserved domain. Thus, we've addressed drug resistance and established a new HIV target."

Rice argued that zinc finger proteins have been under-utilized as therapeutic targets because they represent a new category of target. "Zinc fingers aren't enzymes, and they...

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