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Nov 19, 2001
 |  BioCentury  |  Tools & Techniques

HCV: Still a black box

For difficult indications, the push for product development must be balanced by the advent of proper tools to evaluate lead compounds. If it is not, the likelihood that either the target or the compound cannot be properly validated increases, translating to poor clinical efficacy.

A case in point is hepatitis C virus. Last week ViroPharma Inc. (VPHM, Exton, Penn.) and partner Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, a division of American Home Products Corp. (AHP, Madison, N.J.), halted development of their lead HCV compound, VP 50406, after Phase IIa data failed to show significant antiviral activity (see B17).

"HCV is an extremely difficult nut to crack, compared to other viruses, which can be grown in the lab," said Marc Collett, VPHM co-founder and vice president of discovery research. Unlike HIV, which can be readily studied in culture and in animal models, there are no tissue culture or animal systems to model HCV infection or replication.

"We have to rely on surrogate systems to give clues to possible clinical efficacy," Collett told BioCentury. As yet, he added,...

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