Chiron Discovers Significant Hepatitis C Binding Mechanism; Data Indicates CD81 Protein May Be A Virus Receptor

Milestone Reported in Science, Discovery Could Have Far-Reaching Impact on Vaccine and Therapeutic Product Development

Emeryville, CA, October 29, 1998 - Chiron Corporation (Nasdaq: CHIR) today announced its discovery that a protein molecule (CD81) located on the surface of certain human cell types binds to the hepatitis C virus (HCV). This discovery, reported in the October 30, 1998, issue of Science, provides important clues as to how HCV may penetrate and infect human cells. This knowledge may dramatically advance the development of new vaccines and therapeutics designed to prevent and treat this widespread disease. It is estimated that more than 170 million individuals worldwide suffer from chronic HCV infection.

"The discovery of CD81 binding to HCV is an important scientific milestone in our quest to understand this deadly virus. Chiron scientists characterized what was then known as non-A, non-B hepatitis in 1987," said Lewis T. ("Rusty") Williams, M.D., Ph.D., Chiron's chief scientific officer and president of Chiron Technologies. "This latest discovery is a critical step in discovering and developing targeted therapeutics and vaccines against HCV and HCV-induced disease, and greatly increases our knowledge about the biology of this virus."

Chiron's scientific team, led by Sergio Abrignani, M.D., head of the Immunology Department in Siena, Italy, pioneered this important discovery. Though Chiron researchers characterized HCV more than a decade ago, understanding how the virus infects the liver has been elusive because the virus cannot be easily grown in cell culture. Due to the limitations of HCV culture assays, Chiron scientists relied on a number of alternative approaches to establish the link between HCV's major envelope protein (E2) and the proposed receptor. Using a recombinant form of E2, Chiron scientists were able to demonstrate that it binds with high affinity to selected human cell types. In a precl

Contact: Gabrielle Friedly
Chiron, Inc.

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