Vertex Pharmaceuticals has announced its non-exclusive partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb to conduct Phase II studies of Vertex’s VX-135 with BMS’s daclatasvir in combination to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV), reports.

Vertex will conduct one study of the drugs in approximately 20 non-cirrhotic treatment-naive participants who have genotype 1 of hep C. Then the company will study the combination therapy in approximately 250 participants with genotypes 1, 2 or 3 of the virus, including people with cirrhosis. The studies will evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and sustained virologic response rates (SVR, considered a cure). Vertex will also look into the potential for developing a single-pill combination therapy of the two drugs.

“With more than 170 million people infected worldwide, there is a critical need for new hepatitis C medicines that can offer people simpler and more tolerable treatment regimens that provide high cure rates,” Robert Kauffman, MD, PhD, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Vertex, said in a release. “These studies with daclatasvir will provide the first opportunity to evaluate VX-135 as part of all-oral regimens in people with multiple hepatitis C genotypes and in people with cirrhosis.”

VX-123 is a polymerase inhibitor, and daclatasvir is an NS5A replication complex inhibitor.

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