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12:00 AM
 | 
Aug 29, 2011
 |  BioCentury  |  Emerging Company Profile

Novira: Capsid counterattack

Novira developing therapeutics against viral capsids for HBV, HIV

Developing compounds against viral capsids is an attractive therapeutic strategy in theory, but has yet to work in practice because of the difficulty of inhibiting protein-protein interactions. Novira Therapeutics Inc. believes it has the right medicinal chemistry capabilities to develop small molecules that prevent capsid formation in HBV and HIV.

The capsid is a protein shell that forms around a virus to protect it during passage from one cell to another. "They do not have obvious binding sites, so there was a perception that they were not tractable targets," according to co-founder and CSO Osvaldo Flores.

Flores said previous capsid inhibitors were discovered by serendipity, in the course of developing therapeutics for other indications. He said Novira is the first to methodically develop therapeutics against capsids.

The company's compounds allosterically inhibit the protein-protein interactions that allow the individual subunits to form the capsid shell.

Flores believes the compounds may block two steps in the viral life cycle. "One is binding capsid in the context...

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