I've written extensively about Vertex and its hepatitis C drug telaprevir, a protease inhibitor that, so far, has shown very promising direct antiviral activity against the hepatitis C virus. (For that background, look
The Liver Meeting will be the clinical debut for Gilead's experimental polymerase inhibitor GS 9190, the company's first big push into the hepatitis C market.
Swiss drug maker Roche has garnered some attention for its polymerase inhibitor RS 1626, which in previous studies has shown very good efficacy. There are, however, some worries about the drug's toxic effects, which include anemia. Roche will present some early data next month on RS 1626 used in various combinations with standard-of-care drugs pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Some of this data is contained in the abstract, and it's quite interesting. A 1,500-milligram dose of RS 1626 plus standard of care resulted in 81% of patients reporting undetectable levels of virus after four weeks. By comparison, only 5% of patients given the standard of care alone had undetectable virus levels.
Last month, Pharmasset ( VRUS) released positive preliminary results from a phase I study of its polymerase inhibitor R7128 when dosed by itself for 14 days in patients with hepatitis C. The best data was from a 1500-mg dose of R7128 given twice a day, which resulted in a 2.7 log reduction of viral load. Pharmasset and its partner Roche have already announced plans for new phase II studies of R7128 in combination with standard of care. Additional data from the phase I study will be presented at the meeting.