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RioTech Pharmaceuticals Raises GBP 3/4 Million In Private Financing Round


10/19/2005 5:09:16 PM

LONDON, September 12 /PRNewswire/ -- RioTech Pharmaceuticals Limited (RioTech Pharma) today announced that it has successfully raised GBP750,000 (over $1.3 million) in a private financing round. The funds will drive the preclinical development of the Company's lead product, a novel interferon alpha-8 (IFN-alpha-8) chronic hepatitis C (CHC) therapy.

In antiviral assays, IFN-alpha-8 is over 1000-fold more potent than IFN-alpha-2 (an established CHC therapy). RioTech Pharma has perfected a commercially compatible system to produce recombinant IFN-alpha-8, and is now well financed to progress this product through the next phase of development. The funds will also advance a programme centred on the Company's small molecule target - an enzyme implicated in regulating the potency of the antiviral effect of IFNs.

Commenting on the financing round, Dr Mark Thursz, RioTech Pharma's CSO and Founder, said, 'We are delighted to have achieved our funding target in this private financing round. The funds will allow us to deliver on the preclinical objectives for our lead interferon product, and strengthen our position as we continue our discussions to secure partnership and licensing agreements for our hepatitis therapeutic products.'

The current standard of care for hepatitis C is the combination of pegylated interferons with ribavirin. However, this combination is ineffective in approximately 50% of patients and treatment is prolonged and associated with severe side effects, leading to poor patient compliance. Consequently, there is a clear clinical need for the development of novel IFNs with improved pharmacokinetics, enhanced efficacy and a lower rate of side effects.

About 80% of patients newly infected with hepatitis C virus progress to chronic infection. The World Health Organisation estimates that globally 170 million people, 3% of the world's population, are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus. Of those persons chronically infected, about 10-20% will progress to cirrhosis, and over a period of 20-30 years 1-5% will develop liver cancer. Unlike hepatitis B, there is no vaccine currently available to prevent hepatitis C virus infection.

Notes to Editors

RioTech Pharmaceuticals Limited

RioTech Pharmaceuticals (RioTech Pharma) is a London, UK, based biotechnology company developing innovative products in the field of viral hepatitis.

RioTech Pharma's lead product is an interferon alpha-8 (IFN-alpha-8) in development for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C (CHC). In antiviral assays, IFN-alpha-8 is over 1000-fold more potent than IFN-alpha-2 (an established CHC therapy). The Company's product pipeline also includes a small molecule target - an enzyme implicated in regulating the potency of the antiviral effect of IFNs. The Company has developed an assay to screen for inhibitors of this enzyme, which would produce an enhanced host immune response against hepatitis C virus infected cells.

The Company is led by a globally experienced management team with extensive knowledge of the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, and has a strong patent position around the use of IFN-alpha-8 in the treatment of CHC.

RioTech Pharma was founded in August 2003 by key leaders in the field of hepatitis, Professors Howard Thomas, Graham Foster, Adrian Hill and Drs Mark Thursz and Peter Karayiannis, at Imperial College London and Oxford University. The Company is uniquely positioned to draw from their collective comprehensive understanding of hepatitis viral pathogenesis and patient immune system management of chronic viral infection.

RioTech Pharmaceuticals Limited

CONTACT: For further information, please contact: RioTech PharmaceuticalsLimited, Dr Mark Thursz, Chief Scientific Officer, Tel: +44-207-594-3851,Email: m.thursz@riotechpharma.com


Read at BioSpace.com


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