Press Release

KDDF supports first-in-class HCV drug development at Institut Pasteur Korea


The goal is the generation of a preclinical drug candidate that inhibits both early and late stages of the HCV life cycle.

Apr. 4th, 2014, Rep. of Korea…..Institut Pasteur Korea (IP-K) is tackling the infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) with the aid of the Korea Drug Development Fund (KDDF). The awarded project focuses on the development of a preclinical candidate through optimization of a lead compound identified by IP-K.

“The financial support provided by KDDF will enable us to accelerate the development of a new therapy for chronic hepatitis C and is an excellent example of the innovative translational research in Korea” said Dr. Kevin Pethe, CEO of IP-K.

HCV is a serious global health issue affecting more than 200 million individuals worldwide. Infection leads to an increased risk of developing cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Unfortunately, preventive options, such as a vaccine, are not yet available.

The current standard of care is 48 weeks combinatorial therapy of interferon alpha and ribavirin. However, this treatment regimen is associated with various side effects and has limited efficacy in patients infected with the most prevalent HCV genotype, 1. Recently, HCV-specific antivirals, targeting the viral protease and polymerase, have been FDA-approved but therapy is either accompanied with moderate adverse effects, or is costly, thereby limiting access to those in some of the high HCV-prevalence countries of the world. In addition, viral drug resistance is anticipated to emerge, thus hindering efficacy of antiviral therapy.

By devising a first-in-class approach, scientists at IP-K have discovered a lead compound with a novel mechanism of action; prevention of virus from entering and leaving hepatocytes. This very potent cross genotypic active compound was first identified through a high throughput screening campaign of over 200,000 compounds in conjunction with an infectious virus, phenotypic, cell-based assay.

Dr. Marc Windisch, HCV project leader at IP-K, said, “While many global pharmaceutical companies are focusing on the development of HCV replication inhibitors, we are looking for novel mechanisms of action.” and added “We are expecting to reduce treatment period, side effects, and the appearance of viral drug resistance and therefore provide added benefits to the patient.”

KDDF is a national R&D funding project launched in September 2011 through an inter-ministry collaboration. KDDF supports the development of new therapies for the benefit of mankind with a focus on the creation of successful drug development through effective partnerships between government, industry and academia.