The UK diagnostics company Lab21 is teaming up with Ghent-based Innogenetics to pool intellectual property relating to hepatitis C virus (HCV) drug resistance.
Lab21 has recently been granted European and Australian patents covering the analysis of sequence variation within the viral serine protease NS3, while the Innogenetics has IP covering the viral polymerase protein NS5B, a target in drug development.
Together, the two sets of IP cover analysis of sequence variation across two major antiviral targets for all six major genotypes of HCV.
The combination will allow Lab21, or its partners, to develop commercial assays for the rapid identification of genotypic variations associated with HCV drug resistance. This is expected become a major problem in clinical practice, as new small-molecule therapies are launched.
Graham Mullis, CEO of Lab21, said that using the precedent of HIV antiviral drug resistance as a predictor of growing HCV drug resistance means there will be a clear requirement from both a regulatory and a clinical perspective to be able to identify the emergence of such resistance.
“As new HCV therapies, focused on the NS3 and NS5B genes are launched over the next 5 years, the issue of genotyping patients to identify specific drug resistance profiling will be a major requirement to successfully treat patients.”
Currently, the two partners are carrying out a strategic assessment to decide how best to commercialise and maximise the market opportunity.