NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Roche Diagnostics said today that it is partnering with three Spanish entities, including two research institutes and the software developer Advance Biological Laboratories Therapy Edge Spain (ABL) to develop personalized antiviral treatment strategies for patients with chronic hepatitis C or B.
Roche and ABL's partners include the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Research (VIHR) and the Networking Biomedical Research Centre in Liver and Digestive Diseases (CIBERHED), which is comprised of eight research groups.
Roche said it will use its 454 sequencing systems and bioinformatics analysis, coupled with other genetic and molecular analysis techniques, to apply massively parallel sequencing in developing personalized antiviral treatments for chronic sufferers.
HCV infection causes chronic disease for nearly 180 million people, many of whom acquire the disease 15 to 25 years before they are diagnosed because the infection may remain asymptomatic until the advanced stages of the disease. That poses an expensive problem to health care systems, because in its advanced stages the disease requires a large amount of resources, including liver transplantation.
"The hepatitis C and B viruses exhibit great variability; a person infected with one of these viruses presents a complex population of variants comprising a structure known as 'quasi-species'," explained Juan Ignacio Esteban-Mur, a researcher at VIHR and a project coordinator at CIBERHED, in a statement. "The identification of these variants may be crucial for avoiding the selection of variants resistant to the new antiviral therapies."
Using 454 sequencing makes it possible to create a comprehensive profile of the complex viral populations that circulate in individuals in order to identify the quasi-species that are resistant to existing antiviral treatments, said Roche.