Medivir signs dengue virus deal with Janssen

Strengthens presence in infectious diseases

Medivir, a research-based specialist pharmaceutical company focused on infectious diseases, has signed a collaboration agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutica for the discovery and development of drugs for the prophylaxis and treatment of dengue virus infection.

Sweden-based Medivir and Janssen of Belgium will initiate an r&d programme to co-develop drugs based on the inhibition of the dengue NS3 protease activity.

Both firms will contribute equal resources to the research programme and Medivir has an option to continue to contribute equal funding for the non-clinical and clinical development stages.

If both parties remain in the collaboration until product approval, Janssen will be responsible for commercialisation and Medivir will receive pre-agreed royalties on net sales of future products. Financial details were not revealed.

Dengue virus infection is a major problem in sub-tropical regions where the incidence has increased 30-fold over the last 50 years. Up to 50 million infections are now estimated to occur annually in more than 100 endemic countries and as the disease continues to spread, approximately one third of the world’s population is at risk.

Inhibition of the dengue NS3 protease is considered to be an attractive target in developing effective drugs against dengue infection, due to the critical role that the NS3 protease plays in viral replication. Drug candidates that inhibit the dengue NS3 protease thus offer the prospect of disease prevention and the control of outbreaks in endemic areas. In addition, an NS3 protease inhibitor with therapeutic benefit could be used to treat ongoing viral infections.

Ron Long, chief executive and president of Medivir, said: ‘This strategic collaboration represents a significant step forward in our ambition to retain more value in products by taking them further into development and securing a much more active role in our collaborations with partners. We believe that dengue NS3 protease inhibitors offer the best prospect for effective treatment of dengue fever and we look forward to working closely with our partner to take this project forward.’

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