Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Demonstrates Potent Activity Of A Ribozyme Targeted Against The Hepatitis C Virus

November 09, 1998

Presented at Amer. Assoc. for the Study of Liver Diseases Conference

BOULDER, Colorado, November 9, 1998 -- Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (RPI) (Nasdaq: RZYM) today announced that HEPTAZYME®, a ribozyme designed to selectively destroy Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) RNA, was effective in decreasing Hepatitis C Viral RNA in cell culture assays. This work was presented at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) conference in Chicago by Dr. Lawrence Blatt, RPI's Senior Director of Biopharmacology and Preclinical Research. In these studies, HEPTAZYME® demonstrated significant inhibition of the HCV viral translation process in cells at very low doses, and in a manner that implies applicability across multiple forms of the virus.

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States today. A recent Centers for Disease Control report stated that over 4 million Americans are chronically infected with HCV, and it is estimated that 500 million people are infected with HCV worldwide. The disease, which is more common than HIV, kills 8,000-10,000 Americans annually, and the death toll is expected to triple over the next 10-20 years. Furthermore, development of effective treatments has been hampered by the presence of multiple forms of HCV, with at least six genotypes and more than 90 subtypes known.

HEPTAZYME® contains many novel features believed to be important for HCV treatment. First, HEPTAZYME® is a ribozyme, a catalytic RNA molecule that has the unique potential to bind and cleave HCV RNA specifically and selectively, thus suggesting that viral replication can be inhibited without affecting other normal physiological processes. Next, HEPTAZYME® cleaves the HCV RNA at a location that is completely conserved in all known genotypes and subtypes of HCV, which gives HEPTAZYME® the potential to inhibit all forms of the virus. Finally, since HCV replicates in the cytoplasm and does not integrate into the genome, destruction of HCV RNA by HEPTAZYME® may allow cellular elimination of the virus.

"These novel compounds are targeted against the highly conserved regions of the HCV genome and thus have the potential to act directly by cleavage of the HCV RNA, and indirectly by selection for viral strains that cannot replicate. This represents a completely novel and potentially effective strategy to treat the millions of Americans afflicted with this disease," said Myron J. Tong, Ph.D., M.D., Professor of Medicine, University of Southern California, and Chief of the Liver Center, Huntington Memorial Hospital, Pasadena, California.

"The positive cell culture results with HEPTAZYME® are very encouraging and take RPI one step closer to providing an effective treatment for the HCV silent epidemic. Furthermore, the potential of HEPTAZYME® to be effective against multiple forms of HCV adds significantly to its potential as a therapeutic agent against HCV. We look forward to developing HEPTAZYME® aggressively, and hope that it will become an important component in anti-HCV treatment regimens," said Dr. Ralph Christoffersen, Ph.D., CEO and President of RPI.

RPI, located in Boulder, Colorado, was founded to capitalize on the broad potential of ribozymes for use as human therapeutics and other areas, including the identification of gene function and therapeutic target validation. RPI is developing an anti-angiogenesis compound ANGIOZYME® that is in Phase I Clinical Trials. The Company has also entered into a collaboration with Chiron Corporation to develop ribozyme therapeutics, including an HIV product in Phase II clinical trials. It has entered into therapeutic target validation and discovery collaborations with Schering AG (Germany), Chiron, Parke-Davis, Roche Bioscience and GlaxoWellcome, and has formed Atugen Biotechnology GmbH in Berlin to encompass these activities in the future. It has additional collaborations with DowElanco for commercialization of certain ribozyme-based agricultural products; with Pharmacia Biotech AB on the production-scale synthesis of modified RNA components; with Protogene Laboratories to develop automated equipment for large scale production of ribozymes; and with IntelliGene Corporation for development of ribozyme-based diagnostics.

This press release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, and actual events or results may differ materially. These risk factors include actions by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, technological advances, ability to commercialize and manufacture products and general economic conditions. These and additional risk factors are identified in our annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission filed on forms 10-KSB and in other SEC filings.

Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Ralph E. Christoffersen, Ph.D.
CEO and President

Noonan/Russo Communications, Inc.
Neil Cohen (media)
415-677-4455, ext. 205
Stephanie Seiler (investors)
212-696-4455, ext. 212

Noonan/Russo Communications

Related Hepatitis Articles from Brightsurf:

Busting Up the Infection Cycle of Hepatitis B
Researchers at the University of Delaware have gained new understanding of the virus that causes hepatitis B and the ''spiky ball'' that encloses its genetic blueprint.

Liver cancer: Awareness of hepatitis D must be raised
Scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) have studied the most serious consequence of chronic hepatitis: hepatocellular carcinoma.

Hepatitis B: New therapeutic approach may help to cure chronic hepatitis B infection
Researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München, Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) have developed a novel therapeutic approach to cure chronic hepatitis B.

Anti-hepatitis medicine surprises
A new effective treatment of hepatitis C not only combats the virus, but is also effective against potentially fatal complications such as reduced liver functioning and cirrhosis.

Nanotechnology delivers hepatitis B vaccine
X-ray imaging shows that nanostructured silica acts as a protective vehicle to deliver intact antigen to the intestine so that it can trigger an immune response.

Checkmate for hepatitis B viruses in the liver
Researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University of Munich, working in collaboration with researchers at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf and the University Hospital Heidelberg, have for the first time succeeded in conquering a chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus in a mouse model.

How common is Hepatitis C infection in each US state?
Hepatitis C virus infection is a major cause of illness and death in the United States and injection drug use is likely fueling many new cases.

New strains of hepatitis C found in Africa
The largest population study of hepatitis C in Africa has found three new strains of the virus circulating in the general population in sub-Saharan Africa.

High stability of the hepatitis B virus
At room temperature, hepatitis B viruses (HBV) remain contagious for several weeks and they are even able to withstand temperatures of four degrees centigrade over the span of nine months.

Findings could lead to treatment of hepatitis B
Researchers have gained new insights into the virus that causes hepatitis B -- a life-threatening and incurable infection that afflicts more than 250 million people worldwide.

Read More: Hepatitis News and Hepatitis Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.