The CDC estimates that there are over 3.2 million Americans with a chronic form of HCV, which develops in about 75%-85% of people diagnosed with an acute infection, and is the most common cause of cirrhosis and liver failure. Its most notorious mode of transmission is via sharing needles during intravenous drug use, needlestick injuries, and being born to an infected mother.
In December 2006, the two companies entered an agreement which stipulated Enanta to be eligible for specific regulatory approval milestones, along with a share of ABT-493 net sales worldwide, and sales of any treatment regimens containing ABT-493. Enanta also signed on for net sales for royalty calculations for regimens with ABT-450 — the first clinical-stage protease inhibitor developed from the original collaboration.
Jay Luly, the President and CEO of Enanta Pharmaceuticals, said, “We believe that the development and commercialization of our HCV protease assets, ABT-450 and ABT-493, are in good hands with the expertise and resources of a global biopharmaceutical company such as AbbVie.”
Additionally, Enanta believes it will benefit more from allocating the company’s resources from collaborative assets to further improve and fine-tune their other pipeline products for hepatitis C. This includes their recently-acquired NS5A research program. The company will also be working on expanding the company’s research and development efforts to include other pressing infectious diseases, and other health concerns with largely unmet needs.
In other HCV news, scientists from the Rockefeller University in New York City recently discovered an antibody that could hold the key to preventing the virus from proliferating in hepatocytes, thereby stopping the development of a chronic form of the disease. The study was conducted on HCV-infected mice with humanized livers, in that they were injected with human hepatocytes. One group received normal antibodies, while another received special neutralizing antibodies. The virus in the latter group was observed to be less evasive against the experimental form of immunotherapy.