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Korean Operations of Institute Pasteur, Sanofi-Aventis Partner to Screen for HBV Drugs

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Korean operations of Institut Pasteur and Sanofi-Aventis announced on Wednesday a collaboration to screen for new compounds directed at Hepatitis B.

The terms of the deal call for Sanofi-Aventis Korea to fund the initial phase of the project, expected to last one year, which is aimed at developing and validating a high-throughput assay for screening Institute Pasteur-Korea's chemical libraries in order to identify new candidate compounds to develop as treatments against HBV. From there compounds will be chosen for further optimization and development.

Other terms were not disclosed.

Researchers at IP-K are developing cellular models that could be used to identify inhibitors that target a specific step in the viral life cycle. "Once perfected, those cellular models will be used to comprehensively screen IP-K's compound libraries for novel antiviral interventions," the partners said in a statement.

While medicines and a vaccine for HBV are currently available, about 350 million people globally remain chronic carriers of the virus, and as many as 8 percent of chronic carriers in some parts of Asia are in danger of developing liver cirrhosis and cancer.

Most HBV drugs inhibit reverse transcription, but new therapies are needed as resistance to such drugs is becoming more common. IP-K's work focuses on compounds that interfere with the assembly of the HBV capsid, an approach aimed at preventing the release of infectious virus particles into the bloodstream, reducing the viral load in patients, IP-K and S-A Korea said.

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