Antiretroviral Drug Under Development in China To Be Licensed for Clinical Testing in Country
The experimental CCR5 inhibitor Nifeviroc, which is being developed by Chinese scientists, has been licensed for clinical testing in the country as an HIV/AIDS treatment, China Daily reports (Zhang, China Daily, 4/17). CCR5 inhibitors -- also known as CCR5 receptor antagonists -- aim to prevent HIV from entering human cells rather than fight the virus once it has entered cells. CCR5 inhibitors block HIV from docking with a human cell's CCR5 receptor, which is where HIV usually latches onto a cell to enter it. Previous studies have shown that people who lack CCR5 receptors because of genetic mutations rarely contract HIV (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/20/06). Nifeviroc is under joint development by scientists at the China Academy of Sciences' Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences and the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry. The drug is taken orally and can be used alone or in combination with other drugs, and early clinical trials have indicated that it might be safe and effective, according to China Daily. The scientists estimate another three to five years before Nifeviroc is ready for patient use. Chen Li -- general manager of Target Pharmaceutical, which is founded by the two institutes and Fudan Zhangjiang Bio-Pharmaceutical -- said that Nifeviroc would be sold for less than antiretroviral treatments produced outside the country. Ma Dawei of the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry said an agreement for the international marketing of Nifeviroc recently had been signed with an Australian firm. "Chinese pharmaceutical companies do not have the experience to effectively market a drug like this on a global scale," Ma said, adding, "We are not familiar with the different regulations and laws each country has, and we also need help with funding." Ma said that China will be paid for the intellectual property rights of Nifevoric and receive a percentage of the sales revenue if the drug reaches the market (China Daily, 4/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.