BioChem Pharma Inc. has announced that its 3TC compound,which is now in Phase I/II trials as a potential treatment forthe AIDS virus, has been found active against the hepatitis Bvirus.

Scientists at the Fifth International Conference on Anti-ViralResearch in Vancouver, British Columbia, last week presentedresults on the activity of 3TC against hepatitis B in vitro and inanimal models. 3TC was reported to be active in primatesinfected with the human virus. Dr. David Tyrrell of theUniversity of Alberta made the discovery.

Glaxo Group Ltd. is conducting a pre-clinical study of 3TC as atreatment for hepatitis B, in addition to its AIDS trials,according to BioChem spokesman Tom Babinski. BioChem(NASDAQ:BCHXF) of Laval, Quebec, recently changed its namefrom IAF BioChem.

Under a collaborative agreement, Glaxo is conducting trials andmaking payments to BioChem, including royalties and annualresearch payments, to fund research, development andcommercialization of a variety of compounds. The substancesinclude new anti-cancer agents that reduce toxicity throughincreased specificity, as well as anti-arthritis, anti-viral andanalgesic compounds, Babinski said. In return, Glaxo willreceive exclusive worldwide product manufacturing rights.

Glaxo Canada intends to file to begin clinical trials of 3TC as atreatment for hepatitis B in the second quarter, Babinski toldBioWorld.

In AIDS, 3TC acts as a reverse transferase inhibitor of theenzyme that the virus uses to duplicate its genetic material, hesaid. -- Kris Herbst

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