Atlanta, GA–Inhibitex, Inc. (Nasdaq: INHX) announced today that it has entered into an exclusive worldwide license agreement with the University of Georgia Research Foundation (UGARF) for intellectual property covering a series of HIV integrase inhibitors and other antiviral compounds in exchange for an upfront license fee, future milestone payments and royalties on future net sales. Integrase inhibitors are an emerging class of anti-retroviral agents that block the insertion of viral DNA into the genome of the host cell, thereby stopping the virus from replicating. By inhibiting a different molecular target than currently marketed HIV drugs, integrase inhibitors have the potential to treat patients with resistant strains of HIV.
Preclinical studies of the integrase inhibitors licensed from UGARF have demonstrated that the compounds are potent and orally bioavailable, exhibit multiple mechanisms of integrase inhibition in vitro and have the potential to be active against HIV strains resistant to other integrase inhibitors currently in clinical development. Inhibitex plans to select a lead candidate from this program and initiate IND-enabling studies in the first half of 2008.
“Together with our pending acquisition of FermaVir Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which will bring us antiviral compounds to treat shingles (herpes zoster) and cytomegalovirus infections, the licensing of this promising integrase inhibitor program strengthens our emerging antiviral portfolio and advances our strategy to establish a pipeline of differentiated compounds that address significant infectious diseases,” said Russell H. Plumb, President and CEO of Inhibitex.
The HIV integrase inhibitors in-licensed by Inhibitex were discovered in the laboratory of Dr. Vasu Nair, Director of the University of Georgia (UGA) Center for Drug Discovery, UGA William H. Terry, Sr., Professor, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and head of the Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Nair has spent more than 15 years studying how HIV replicates and causes AIDS.
“We are encouraged by the preclinical data emerging from this integrase inhibitor program and believe that these compounds have the potential to be a meaningful addition to the clinician’s armamentarium for HIV treatment-experienced patients,” stated Dr. Joseph M. Patti, Chief Scientific Officer. “These compounds have been shown to possess favorable pharmacokinetic and cytotoxicity profiles, as well as a resistance pattern that is different from other integrase inhibitors in development.”
The license agreement also includes intellectual property related to hepatitis C polymerase inhibitors. Further, Inhibitex has entered into a sponsored research agreement with UGARF to provide up to three years of financial support for specified research and development activities to be performed at UGA related to the licensed compounds and intellectual property.