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DFH Pharma to Collaborate With National Cancer Institute to Develop Second-Generation HIV Maturation Inhibitor Drugs

GAITHERSBURG, Md., Jan. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- DFH Pharma, Inc., (DFH) a privately held specialty pharmaceutical company focused exclusively in the HIV-1 therapeutic space, announced today a collaborative agreement between DFH and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to further the development of the next generation of HIV maturation inhibitor drugs. Maturation inhibitors are a novel class of antiretroviral drug candidates that inhibit HIV-1 replication by interfering with the maturation of the HIV-1 virus.

The collaboration will involve extending successful efforts by DFH Pharma to identify drug candidates with potent activity against all HIV strains, including those that proved resistant to the first-in-class maturation inhibitor, bevirimat. DFH scientists have identified a series of 2nd generation maturation inhibitors with the broad anti-viral activity profile necessary for successful HIV drug development. The NCI investigators will evaluate the activity of these compounds against HIV strains associated with reduced bevirimat activity. The most potent of these compounds will be selected for further pre-clinical testing with a goal of initiating human clinical trials with one or more candidate molecules in the near future.

Dr. Eric Freed, an internationally recognized leader in the field of HIV assembly and release, will head the NCI group. Dr. Freed has worked in the maturation inhibition area since the early 2000's when his group collaborated with Panacos Pharmaceuticals in the discovery and characterization of the maturation inhibitor class of HIV drugs. "We are very excited to be working with Dr. Freed and his NCI colleagues in developing this new class of drugs to treat HIV infection"' said Carl Wild, Ph.D., President and CEO. Dr. Wild continued, "The NCI collaboration will allow DFH to build on its recent success in identifying broadly active maturation inhibitor drug candidates and expedite the return of this exciting class of HIV drug to the clinic."

About Maturation Inhibitors

Maturation inhibitors are a novel class of antiretroviral drug candidates that inhibit HIV-1 replication by interfering with virus maturation. Specifically, drugs in this class interfere with the last step in the processing of the HIV-1 Gag protein. This interference leads to the formation of noninfectious, immature virus particles, thus preventing subsequent rounds of HIV infection. As expected for a novel mechanism of action, these drugs retain inhibitory activity against HIV-1 isolates resistant to all classes of currently approved drugs commonly used by HIV infected patients. DFH plans to develop maturation inhibitors for application in both first-line and salvage therapy.

The clinical proof-of-concept for maturation inhibitors was established in a monotherapy study in HIV-infected patients with the first-in-class inhibitor bevirimat. While this first generation drug candidate was shown to be safe and well-tolerated with potent antiviral activity in some patients, only limited activity was observed in other patients. The focus of the second generation program is to identify drug candidates with potent activity against all HIV-1 strains, including those that exhibit reduced sensitivity to first-generation compounds.

About DFH Pharma, Inc.

DFH Pharma was founded by Dr. Wild and David E Martin, PharmD in 2011. Dr. Wild was a co-founder of Panacos Pharmaceuticals and served as the Chief Scientific Officer. He serves as the company's President and Chief Executive Officer as well as on the Board of Directors. While at Duke University, Dr. Wild discovered the Fusion Inhibitor class of HIV drugs and invented the first approved member of that drug class, Fuzeon® (Enfuvirtide). Dr. Martin was Senior Vice President, Drug Development and Regulatory Affairs at Panacos. He serves as the Chief Development Officer and on the Board of Directors. While at Panacos, Drs. Wild and Martin played critical roles in the development of bevirimat, the first-in-class maturation inhibitor drug. Together the DFH Pharma team has more than 60 years of experience in antiviral drug discovery and development.

Carl Wild, PhD
Telephone: (301) 461-4231


David E. Martin, PharmD
Telephone: (301) 538-1878

Media Contact: David Martin DFH Pharma, Inc., 301-538-1878,

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SOURCE DFH Pharma, Inc.
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