Conatus Pharmaceuticals has dosed the first patient in a Phase IIb clinical trial evaluating CTS-1027 in patients who have previously been treated for hepatitis C with no response.

The trial will evaluate the safety, tolerability, and antiviral activity of CTS-1027 in combination with peginterferon alfa-2a (Pegasys) and ribavirin (Copegus) after up to 48 weeks of therapy.

The trial will also assess if higher dose levels of CTS-1027 will improve on previously observed results.

The placebo-controlled, multicentre, double-blind and randomised trial will enroll approximately 260 patients who will receive peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin with or without CTS-1027.

The trial will be conducted at up to 50 medical centres across the US.

CTS-1027 is an oral, small molecule compound that inhibits the activity of key members of a class of protease enzymes, the matrix metalloproteinases.