Hepatitis C is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which affects liver and is mainly transmitted by blood-to-blood contact. Infection is often asymptomatic, but when chronicized it causes liver inflammation (chronic hepatitis). This condition can progress to fibrosis, cirrhosis and cancer. Socio-economical quality of life is seriously affected by several aspects including domestic environment and workplace. Besides any ethical issue, the impact on the European and national health systems has a major relevance due to high costs of pharmacological treatments.
At present, no vaccine against HCV is available. Standard therapy is currently based on double or triple combination (peginterferon, ribavirin and protease inhibitor), but it is ineffective to reduce symptoms in about 40% of cases, while clearance from viremia is not achievable.
The market for HCV drugs is set to rapidly grow in the forthcoming years as new and more effective therapies will be available. Despite many scientific publications have envisaged during the most recent years the design and the study of new compounds targeting the glycans of the glycoproteins of the HCV envelope (gp120), no such kind of compounds have been described until now.
Recent patent publications (WO2008/090151and WO2011/064303) have described innovative HCV inhibitors targeting such glycoproteins of HCV envelope. Some of those compounds have been already tested in typical in vitro assays eliciting a remarkable inhibitory activity on HCV. It remains to assess their effectiveness by implementing additional work packages. The current comprehensive proposal has been designed to develop the scientific and technological bases to assess most of the findings required to enter into clinical studies in humans with new HCV inhibiting compounds.
Fields of science
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Funding SchemeBSG-SME - Research for SMEs