Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated
) and its partner, Alios BioPharma, Inc. recently announced
disappointing results from a viral kinetic study evaluating
ALS-2158 which is being developed for the treatment of patients
suffering from hepatitis C virus (HCV).
In the study, patients suffering from genotype 1 chronic
hepatitis C were dosed with up to 900 mg of ALS-2158 for seven
days. Though the candidate was well tolerated, antiviral activity
demonstrated in the study was not enough to support further
development of the candidate. As a result, Vertex decided to stop
further clinical development of the candidate.
On the other hand, Vertex presented positive data from an
additional cohort of another ongoing viral kinetic study evaluating
ALS-2200 along with ribavirin. The study was evaluating the
combination to treat patients suffering from genotype 1 chronic
hepatitis C virus.
Data from the study revealed that ALS-2200 along with ribavirin
resulted in five patients achieving HCV RNA levels below the limit
of qualification after seven days of treatment. The study also
showed that in two of these five patients, HCV RNA levels were
below the level of detection in the same period of time. Vertex
also mentioned that ALS-2200 was well tolerated with no
discontinuation due to adverse events.
The company plans to initiate several oral phase II combination
studies by this year. Initially, Vertex is planning to conduct
phase II studies with ALS-2200, one in combination with ribavirin
and another in combination with Incivek (telaprevir) for patients
suffering from genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C virus. We note that
Incivek is already approved for the treatment of genotype 1 chronic
hepatitis C and is marketed globally.
Notably, in June last year, Vertex signed an exclusive licensing
agreement with Alios BioPharma to gain the worldwide rights to
The HCV market is very lucrative and currently has players like
Merck & Co. Inc.
Gilead Sciences Inc.
We currently have a Neutral recommendation on Vertex. The stock
carries a Zacks #4 Rank (Sell rating) in the short run.
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