BioCryst Receives NIH Grant to Develop Hepatitis C Inhibitors

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announces that is has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Advanced Technology Grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a unit of The National Institutes of Health (NIH). The $600,000 grant titled "Optimizing Hepatitis C virus NS5B Polymerase Inhibitors" supports BioCryst's efforts to develop its pre-clinical product candidates for the treatment of hepatitis C. BioCryst will be awarded $300,000 in the first year of the grant, and an additional $300,000 the second year.

BioCryst's research has been directed toward the design, evaluation and synthesis of novel active site-directed inhibitors of hepatitis C polymerase, an enzyme necessary for the hepatitis C virus to replicate itself, in collaboration with Emory University and the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). BioCryst has an exclusive license to compounds resulting from this collaboration. The funding from the SBIR grant will be used to design, optimize and assay orally active inhibitors of hepatitis C virus NS5B polymerase provided by Emory University. Promising inhibitors from this program will also be assayed for activity against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), West Nile, and Ebola viruses under agreements currently in place with NIAID and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

"This grant enables BioCryst to continue advancing the development of new potential therapies for hepatitis C by identifying and developing selective nontoxic inhibitors of the hepatitis C virus NS5B polymerase," said Yarlagadda Babu, PhD, vice president of discovery for BioCryst. "The awarding of this grant underscores the recognized need for new therapeutic options to treat hepatitis C. We are excited and pleased by the progress we have made in our hepatitis C polymerase inhibitor program and believe this grant will allow additional advancements."

Hepatitis C virus infection is a common and chronic infection estimated to have infected at least 4 million individuals in the United States. Hepatitis C virus infection is a major cause of morbidity and mortality, both in the United States and throughout the world. Unfortunately, management of hepatitis C virus infection is challenging and imperfect. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the development of antiviral agents active against hepatitis C virus.