HERENTALS, Belgium, Jan. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Kemin Pharma has identified two different molecules that appear to have very good biological effects against the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The first of these molecules is already being tested in Phase II clinical trials. Kemin Pharma discovered molecule KPE02003002, a synthetic derivative of a phytochemical with several chiral centers, in October 2002, through a collaborative effort with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and the Rega Institute for Medical Research in Leuven, Belgium. The second molecule, KPE00001113, was discovered in 2003 as part of the same collaborative, in vitro, antiviral screening program.
Kemin's KPE02003002 molecule showed very good biological activity against HCV in several in vitro screening assays. Because of these promising results, Kemin researchers accelerated the development process and completed the first seven-day, clinical Phase II trial with the compound used in monotherapy in December of 2003. The majority of the patients in this trial were infected with HCV genotype 1, the most prevalent genotype in Europe and the United States, and had not previously responded to treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin, the currently available treatment. Results of the trial, together with excellent patient tolerance, encouraged Kemin researchers to initiate a second Phase II trial in first quarter, 2004.
Kemin's second lead molecule, KPE00001133, is bicyclic carbohydrate derivative, a completely different class of compound from the lead molecule identified first. Because subsequent toxicity and pharmokinetic profiles looked very encouraging, Kemin researchers decided to accelerate the product development process for this second HCV compound, as well.
Hepatitis C is a very significant unmet medical need with several large pharmaceutical companies actively researching new treatments. Worldwide, approximately 170 million people are currently infected with HCV, and it is estimated that this number will increase to 500 million by 2010. There are a number of different forms, or genotypes, of HCV with genotype one being the most predominant as well as the most difficult to cure. The only treatment currently available is a combination of ribavirin with interferon or pegylated interferon. This treatment requires up to 48 weeks and causes severe side effects for the patients. The success rate is very limited, especially against genotype one, with a success rate of only 54 percent.
Kemin Pharma was established in January 2001, as wholly owned, independent subsidiary of Kemin Industries, Inc. Its mission is to develop new, unique, antimicrobial compounds effective against bacteria, viruses and fungi and protozoa that present serious, unmet medical challenges throughout the world. Through a proprietary prescreening program, Kemin Pharma is focusing its screening efforts on compounds that are likely to have a higher success rate. This has proven very successful for the company. In the first two years of its existence, Kemin researchers have isolated and are currently conducting preclinical trials on six compounds and Phase II clinical trials on two compounds.