Antios Therapeutics is moving ahead with Phase I clinical studies in Canada and Europe of an antiviral drug aimed at hepatitis B. Antios was formed in 2018 based on technology licensed from DRIVE, the non-profit drug development company owned by Emory.
Antios is developing ATI-2173, which was designed to direct a form of the drug clevudine to the liver. Pharmasset, formed by Emory scientists and later acquired by Gilead, was previously developing clevudine against hepatitis B. Pharmasset decided to stop clinical studies of clevudine in 2009 because of reports of drug-induced myopathy from South Korea. ATI-2173 is supposed to selectively deliver the drug to the liver, potentially eliminating off-target effects.
(DRIVE is also developing an drug with activity against influenza and the new coronavirus, but hepatitis B – with a weird partly double-stranded DNA genome— is quite different from both flu and coronaviruses. It does underline DRIVE’s experience with antivirals.)
Antios recently announced that the US Patent and Trademark Office has issued a notice of allowance for a patent covering ATI-2173. A full description is available from the World Intellectual Property Organization portal.
The patent is based on research carried out at Emory by Antios CEO and co-founder Abel De La Rosa, PhD, who was previously chief scientific officer at DRIVE and Emory Institute for Drug Development, and before that, an executive at Pharmasset.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 200 million people are living with chronic hepatitis B infection, which can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer. The prevalence is highest in Asia and Africa. Infection is most commonly spread from mother to child or by exposure to infected blood or body fluids. A vaccine against HBV is available and recommended by the CDC for infants.
Other antiviral drugs are sometimes used against chronic hepatitis B infection, but there is no cure. Antios sees ATI-2173 as a possible “backbone of a curative regimen”, if combined with other medications.
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