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Southern Research Signs Agreement with Apath, LLC to Conduct Preclinical Studies with Virus-Based HCV Screenings

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., April 25, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Southern Research today announced that it has signed an agreement with Apath, LLC  which will allow Southern Research to conduct laboratory testing, research, and/or screening of potential therapeutic agents for hepatitis C (HCV) on an exclusive, fee-for-service basis using Apath's HCV virus-based technology.

Apath—a privately held technology company focusing on HCV and other human viral pathogens—was founded by Charles M. Rice, Ph.D., Professor at The Rockefeller University and formerly of the Washington University School of Medicine.

"Preclinical screening using a virus-based system will advance potential treatments for the disease because new therapies for HCV will be screened against the actual virus rather than a subset of the replication machinery," said Andrew D. Penman, Ph.D. vice president of Drug Development at Southern Research. "We are very pleased to work with Dr. Rice, a world renowned HCV expert and offer this new service to our clients."

Most preclinical drug screening for new HCV therapies use cell lines that harbor replicons—intracellular sub-genomic, self-replicating RNA molecules that contain the nucleotide sequences required for RNA replication, transcription, and translation, but are not themselves infectious.

Using a virus-based system, researchers can now develop antiviral treatments targeting viral entry into the cell, all of the replication machinery of the replicon, as well as downstream events such as viral assembly and release from the cell. As such, the entire viral life cycle is available for drug discovery and development.

"Successful treatment for chronic hepatitis C, given HCV diversity and the spectrum of disease, is likely to require combination therapy and new drugs well beyond those already approved," said Dr. Rice.

"As part of our commitment to remaining the global leader in the sublicensing of HCV-related technologies, I am particularly pleased with the expansion of our contract services agreement with Southern Research Institute, and I am extremely encouraged by the potential of this business venture assisting our clients in the fight against hepatitis C," said Robert M. Roth, Apath vice president, Strategic Operations. 

Southern Research conducts both contract research and basic research for clients, providing preclinical drug discovery, development, and clinical trial support services in cancer, infectious diseases, and CNS/neurological disease to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Scientists conduct translational science to invent small molecules and advance them from the design stage to the clinic. Services available include medicinal chemistry, molecular biology, biochemistry, high-throughput screening and a full set of in-house GLP development services including toxicology, ADME/PK, animal models, formulations, and bioanalytical services.

Southern Research Institute is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) scientific research organization founded in 1941 that conducts preclinical drug discovery and development, advanced engineering research in materials, systems development, and environment and energy research. More than 550 scientific and engineering team members support clients and partners in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, defense, aerospace, environmental and energy industries. Southern Research is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., with facilities in Wilsonville, Ala., Frederick, Md., and Durham, NC and offices in Huntsville, Ala., New Orleans, La., and Washington, DC. 

CONTACT: Rhonda Jung

SOURCE Southern Research Institute
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