updated 10/1/2010 9:16:57 AM ET 2010-10-01T13:16:57

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Sept. 30, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq:ACHN), a leader in the discovery and development of small molecule drugs to combat the most challenging infectious diseases, today announced that the Company has initiated patient dosing in a Phase II clinical trial of ACH-1625 for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. ACH-1625 is a potent small molecule inhibitor of HCV protease, an enzyme necessary for viral replication. The drug candidate was discovered and is being advanced by Achillion. 

The clinical trial is a Phase IIa, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability and antiviral activity of oral ACH-1625 in combination with pegylated interferon alfa-2a and ribavirin after 28 days of dosing and after 12 weeks of dosing in subjects with chronic hepatitis C virus genotype 1. The trial will take place in the United States and Europe and is designed to enroll approximately 120 HCV-infected patients.  The 28-day and 12-week trial data are anticipated to be announced in the first and fourth quarters of 2011, respectively.

"This Phase II clinical trial will allow us to establish the most appropriate once-daily dose to use in longer-term trials, and will augment our existing safety database for ACH-1625 in humans," stated Elizabeth A. Olek, D.O., Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Achillion. "The results will also provide important combination data for use of ACH-1625 with standard of care. We anticipate that the 28-day segment of the trial will provide us with rapid viral response (RVR) data early next year, and that the 12-week segment will provide extended viral response (cEVR) data by the end of next year."

"The initiation of Phase II dosing for ACH-1625 is a very important step in further solidifying this compound's profile as a potentially best-in-class protease inhibitor for HCV treatment," said Michael D. Kishbauch, President and Chief Executive Officer of Achillion. "We believe ACH-1625 has the potential to provide an improved safety and tolerability profile, a more convenient dosing schedule and an extended period of viral suppression compared to currently available treatments for HCV-infected patients." 

About ACH-1625

ACH-1625 is an HCV protease inhibitor designed and synthesized based on crystal structures of enzyme/inhibitor complex. ACH-1625 is an open chain, non-covalent, reversible inhibitor of NS3 protease. In preclinical studies, ACH-1625 demonstrated high potency, unique pharmacokinetic properties and an excellent safety profile at high drug exposures. With its rapid and extensive partitioning to the liver, as well as high liver/plasma ratios demonstrated in preclinical studies, Achillion believes that ACH-1625 has the potential for once daily dosing. ACH-1625 has shown low single-digit nanomolar potency that is specific to HCV. It is equipotent against HCV genotypes 1a and 1b at IC50~1nM.

In clinical studies completed to date, subjects receiving both single and multiple ascending doses ranging from 50 mg to 2000 mg for periods up to 5 days demonstrated that ACH-1625 was well tolerated at all doses and there were no serious adverse events, and no clinically significant changes in vital signs, electrocardiograms (ECGs) or laboratory evaluations. HCV-infected patients receiving doses ranging from 200 to 600 mg twice daily, and 400 to 600 mg once daily, showed mean maximal reductions in viral load ranging from of 3.07 log10 to 4.25 log10. Furthermore, all patients had viral loads that remained suppressed for at least 7 days after dosing was completed, maintaining a mean reduction of more than 1log10 from baseline through day 12, the last day of viral load measurement in the study. 

About HCV

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the most common cause of viral hepatitis, which is an inflammation of the liver. It is currently estimated that more than 170 million people are infected with HCV worldwide and The American Association of Liver Disease estimates that up to 80% of individuals become chronically infected following exposure. If left untreated, chronic hepatitis can lead to permanent liver damage, which can result in the development of liver cancer, liver failure or death. Few therapeutic options currently exist for the treatment of HCV infection. The current standard of care is limited by its specificity for certain types of HCV, significant side-effect profile, injectable route of administration and high cost.

About Achillion

Achillion is an innovative pharmaceutical company dedicated to bringing important new treatments to patients with infectious disease. Achillion's proven discovery and development teams have advanced multiple product candidates with novel mechanisms of action. Achillion is focused on solutions for the most challenging problems in infectious disease –hepatitis C, resistant bacterial infections and HIV. For more information on Achillion Pharmaceuticals, please visit www.achillion.com or call 1-203-624-7000.

This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, including statements with respect to the potency, safety and other characteristics of ACH-1625, which may not be duplicated in future cohorts at different doses or in future clinical studies of longer duration; Achillion's expectations regarding timing and duration of other clinical trials, including additional dosing cohorts. Among the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements are uncertainties relating to results of clinical trials and unexpected regulatory actions or delays. These and other risks are described in the reports filed by Achillion with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2009. 

All forward-looking statements reflect Achillion's expectations only as of the date of this release and should not be relied upon as reflecting Achillion's views, expectations or beliefs at any date subsequent to the date of this release. Achillion anticipates that subsequent events and developments may cause these views, expectations and beliefs to change. However, while Achillion may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, it specifically disclaims any obligation to do so.


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