June 20, 2018

Farmington biotech takes step toward hepatitis B trial

PHOTO | Steve Laschever
PHOTO | Steve Laschever
Bijan Almassian is seen in CaroGen’s UConn incubator lab with research scientist Marie Krady (left) and research associate Lorraine Apuzzo (center), who is pursuing her doctorate at UConn.

After several years of refining its immunotherapy platform for curing chronic hepatitis B, Farmington-based CaroGen said it has identified a treatment candidate that it hopes can enter a Phase I trial next year.

"CARG-101" is a "virus-like vesicle" (VLV) biotechnology.

Carogen, which is housed in UConn Health's Technology Incubation Program facility, said it feels confident about its interactions so far with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration regarding CARG-101.

"We anticipate an [Investigational New Drug clearance] and start of phase 1 in the first half of 2019," Bijan Almassian, Carogen's president and CEO, said in a statement.

Almassian has told HBJ that more than 240 million people around the world have chronic hepatitis B and that more than 600,000 die annually from associated liver diseases.

CaroGen, which raised $2.1 million in 2016, also recently announced that it had received a $225,000 research grant from the Small Business Innovation Research Program, to be used to further optimize its VLV technology.

Earlier this month, Yale announced it had received a patent on VLV-based vaccines to treat chronic Hepatitis B. Carogen, which holds an exclusive license to that intellectual property, said the patent increases the value of its biotech portfolio.

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