Genelabs Technologies Encouraged by Confirmation That the Hepatitis G Virus Prolongs Survival of AIDS Patients

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. -- Genelabs Technologies, Inc. has reported that a presentation at the 10th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston late last week confirmed that GB virus C (GBV-C, also known as hepatitis G virus or HGV) prolonged survival of people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS.

This presentation confirms two studies that were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on September 6, 2001 (Xiang, et. al. (Iowa City) and Tillman, et. al. (Hannover, Germany)), showing that patients infected with both HIV and GBV-C had a reduced mortality rate compared to those only infected with HIV. Genelabs scientists first discovered this virus, which is transmitted by blood and other bodily fluids, while seeking to identify what was then an unknown hepatitis virus. Patents covering the HGV genome, peptides and their uses have issued to Genelabs. Companies such as Chiron Corporation, Ortho Diagnostics and Boehringer Mannheim (now Roche Diagnostics) have licensed diagnostic applications from Genelabs. Genelabs retains all other commercial rights to its discovery of HGV, including therapeutic and vaccine applications of the virus.

The oral abstract, "Persistent GBV-C Virus Type C Infection is Associated with Decreased Risk of Death in HIV-seroconvertors in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study," was presented by Dr. Carolyn Williams, acting chief, Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The research was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Jack T. Stapleton of the University of Iowa. The University of Iowa team continues to elaborate the mechanism of interaction between HGV and HIV under a research-use license from Genelabs.

"Despite significant efforts made by Genelabs and others around the world, HGV infection has not been associated with any significant disease. It is therefore very encouraging that the findings reported today may have implications for the development of new treatments for HIV infection," stated Irene A. Chow, PhD, chairman and chief executive officer of Genelabs. "We are collaborating with Dr. Stapleton in his cutting-edge work on how infection with HGV may be beneficial to HIV patients."

Since the discovery of the virus, Genelabs has collaborated with leading academic researchers and government institutions, investigating the pathology of infection with HGV and has granted non-exclusive research-use licenses to assess the impact of HGV on survival of patients infected with HIV. The virus has been reported to be found in approximately 2 percent of all blood donated in the United States, in 15 percent of people infected with hepatitis C, and as high as 40 percent of people infected with HIV. Because of the potential importance of observations showing improved survival for HIV patients who also have an HGV co-infection, Genelabs has research licenses available at no cost to academic institutions interested in further scientific research in this area.

Genelabs Technologies, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company pioneering the discovery and development of novel pharmaceutical products to improve human health.

Source: Genelabs Technologies, Inc.