Novara Therapeutics has secured $23m in Series A financing to advance the development of capsid-targeting antivirals to treat chronic hepatitis B (HBV) and HIV infections.

Novara’s antiviral drugs are designed to target and disrupt the function of capsid, a viral protein that replicates and transmits viruses.

By inhibiting important aspects of capsid function, such as the assembly of new viral particles and the disassembly of the particles following infection of a new cell, the oral antiviral drugs are expected to prevent further spread of the virus.

5AM Ventures and Canaan Partners have co-led the financing and were latter joined by WuXi PharmaTech in addition to the existing investors BioAdvance, Mid-Atlantic Angel Group, Robin Hood Ventures and Delaware Crossing Investment Group.

5AM Ventures managing partner and Novira board chairman Dr Scott Rocklage said therapy for chronic HBV and HIV infections is still plagued by certain limitations, including the absence of a true cure for chronic infection with HBV, and the development of drug resistance during chronic infection with HIV.

"We were drawn to Novira’s novel approach, which holds much promise for treating these viral diseases with oral drugs that can potentially work either as a monotherapy or in combination with the current standard of care, as well as the company’s strong management team, which has extensive expertise in pharmaceutical drug discovery," Rocklage said.

Novira president and chief scientific officer Osvaldo Flores said; "We believe the capsid-targeting approach holds much potential as a treatment for chronic HBV and HIV infections, and now, with the support of additional strong investors, we are able to advance these first-in-class antiviral drugs into the clinic."