Some quick news and updates:
- A handful of studies explored refining the duration of hepatitis C treatment to improve response and tolerability. Specifically, researchers looked at the value of extending the duration of treatment for people with genotype 1 beyond 48 weeks, and shortening the duration of treatment for people with genotype 2 or 3 to less than 24 weeks. The latter approach seems promising, but the jury's still out on the value of extending treatment for people with genotype 1 -- it may work best for a subset of people, depending on how rapidly and how much their viral load declines during the early weeks of treatment. In general, we're seeing a trend towards individualizing the duration of treatment, but there's no clear rules or guidelines yet.
- New drugs: Idenix' NM283 was the subject of a presentation yesterday, based on results from initial phase I/II studies in people with hepatitis C. At the highest dose (800 mg, once a day), people with genotype 1 experienced on average a 1.2 log drop in HCV viral load by day 7 of NM283 monotherapy. Preliminary results from a 28-day study combining NM283 with pegylated interferon were also reported, though difficult to interpret without a control group. Perhaps the most exciting thing about this drug is how far along it is in clinical development, relative to other investigational agents. Vertex and InterMune also presented posters about their HCV protease inhibitor programs -- Vertex has completed a preliminary study in healthy (HCV-negative) volunteers, and is now moving into an initial study in people with HCV. InterMune hopes to have a compound in clinical trials later next year. Both companies are hoping their agents avoid the cardiac toxicity which led to the cancellation of Boehringer Ingelheim's BILN 2061.
That's it for now -- more thoughts, and sources for other updates, over the next few days.