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First human gets new antibody aimed at hepatitis C virus
Date:8/6/2009

Boston, Mass. Building upon a series of successful preclinical studies, researchers at MassBiologics of the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) today announced the beginning of a Phase 1 clinical trial, testing the safety and activity of a human monoclonal antibody they developed that can neutralize the Hepatitis C virus (HCV).

The first volunteer received the antibody known as MBL-HCV1 on July 28, 2009, and the study is now proceeding and will eventually involve 30 healthy subjects in a dose-escalation trial expected to conclude later this year. "We are pleased that this program has now entered the clinical trial phase," said Donna Ambrosino, MD, executive director of MassBiologics and a professor of pediatrics at the Medical School. "This trial will test the safety of the antibody and measure its activity in the subjects. This will help us determine the useful dose and other parameters as we plan for the next step in this program, which will be a Phase 2 study in liver transplant patients."

HCV attacks the liver and can eventually lead to liver failure. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3.2 million Americans are chronically infected with HCV and some 10,000 die annually of the disease. Globally, as many as 170 million people are estimated to suffer from HCV infection. For the most serious cases of HCV that do not respond to antiviral drugs, liver transplantation is the only option.

HCV is the leading indication for liver transplantation, diagnosed in about half of the 6,000 liver transplants done each year in the United States. Transplantation can be a life-saving treatment; however, in nearly all cases the patient's new liver is eventually infected by HCV because the virus remains in the patient's bloodstream during surgery. The powerful antiviral drugs now used to attack HCV prior to end-stage liver failure are not routinely used during surgery due to the patients' weakened condit
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Contact: Michael Cohen
Michael.Cohen@umassmed.edu
508-868-4778
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

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