12:00 AM
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Nov 17, 2003
 |  BioCentury  |  Product Development

Vertex on the verge

More than two years after instituting Vertex 2.0, an approach that simultaneously looks at multiple chemistries against multiple targets in a gene family, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. is still processing a clinical pipeline created by Vertex 1.0, a one-at-a-time drug discovery paradigm that placed its bets on a handful of enzymes.

Providing that the choice of targets derived from Vertex 1.0 has been sound, the built-in redundancies in its pipeline eventually should result in the company's third drug. And the first fruits of Vertex 2.0 are set to enter the clinic in the first half of 2004.

That does not mean the road does not have potholes, however. Thus, the Vertex 1.0 clinical pipeline experienced some hiccups last week when a Phase IIb study of pralnacasan in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) was suspended after a long-term animal toxicology study resulted in liver abnormalities.

At the same time, VRTX (Cambridge, Mass.) shelved VX-148 after a Phase II study in psoriasis. Even though 14-18% of patients given the compound had a PASI 75 response, 5-10% also had reversible liver enzyme abnormalities.

Targeting success

A quick look at VRTX's clinical candidates shows that the company is heavily banking on four targets: HIV protease, interleukin-1 (IL-1)...

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