Penzberg, Germany, 06 April 2011
Roche Joins in Spanish Research Cooperation for Personalized Treatment of Hepatitis B and C
Roche Diagnostics (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) is cooperating with the Spanish Vall d’Hebron Institute of Research (VHIR), the Networking Biomedical Research Centre in Liver and Digestive Diseases (CIBEREHD), and the software producer Advanced Biological Laboratories Therapy Edge Spain (ABL) in a study designed to resolve the current limitations that prevent the individualization of anti-HBV and anti-HCV (hepatitis B and C) treatments. The project will utilize Roche’s 454 Sequencing Systems and bioinformatics analysis, together with other genetic and molecular analytical techniques. Ultimately, the research project aims to identify personalized treatment for each individual while minimizing the healthcare costs and side effects experienced by subjects.
Hepatitis C (HCV) infection affects 3% of the world population, representing a chronic disease for nearly 180 million people. Many infected individuals acquire the disease 15-25 years before identification of the virus and the use of diagnostic tests. The infection remains asymptomatic until advanced stages of the disease characterized by complications such as decompensated cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma. While in the early stages resource use for controlling the disease is very limited, in the advanced stages resource consumption is enormous, and a significant percentage of individuals even require liver transplantation – with the resulting increase in direct and indirect costs, loss of quality of life and increased morbidity-mortality.
“The hepatitis C and B viruses exhibit great variability; a person infected with one of these viruses presents a complex population of variants comprising a structure known as ‘quasispecies’. The identification of these variants may be crucial for avoiding the selection of variants resistant to the new antiviral therapies,” explains Dr. Juan Ignacio Esteban-Mur, head of the line in hepatitis C, molecular biology, immune response and treatment of the liver diseases at VHIR. Dr. Esteban-Mur also is the coordinator of the viral hepatitis program of the CIBERHED, which comprises 8 Spanish research groups, specialized in this field.
The use of 454 Sequencing Systems makes it possible to gain a comprehensive profile of the complex viral populations that circulate in individuals, with the fundamental purpose of identifying the presence of viral quasispecies resistant to the existing antiviral treatments. The goal of the study is to apply this massively parallel sequencing approach to personalize the antiviral treatment strategies in individuals with chronic hepatitis C or B.
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is the world’s largest biotech company with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, virology, inflammation, metabolism and CNS. Roche is also the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics, tissue-based cancer diagnostics and a pioneer in diabetes management. Roche’s personalised healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostic tools that enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life and survival of patients. In 2010, Roche had over 80’000 employees worldwide and invested over 9 billion Swiss francs in R&D. The Group posted sales of 47.5 billion Swiss francs. Genentech, United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche has a majority stake in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more information: www.roche.com.
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