PITTSBORO, N.C. – Kurt Graves, a veteran life science executive, is joining venture capital backed Biolex Therapeutics as executive chairman of the board.

The position is a new one at the privately held company.

Graves is expected to work with Biolex management as it takes its potential hepatitis C treatment called Locteron into late-stage clinical trials. Biolex describes Locteron as a potential blockbuster.

“Our aim is to leverage and combine Locteron’s next-generation tolerability and dosing advantages with the best direct-acting anti-virals to shape the next breakthroughs in combination therapy,” Graves said in a statement. “We will target cure rates over 90 percent, further reducing treatment durations while also dramatically improving tolerability and dosing simplicity for patients.

“With limited competition in the interferon segment, Locteron is emerging as potentially the best and most combinable interferon in a market projected to exceed $40 billion in cumulative interferon sales alone over the next 10 years as millions of patients seek to achieve a virological cure from this global epidemic,” he added.

Biolex closed on $10 million in new financing earlier this year.

Locteron has been under development since 2005.

In October 2008 after Biolex pulled plans for an initial public offering of stock, the company raised $60 million in new funding. Biolex then acquired all rights to Locteron that it didn’t already own from OctoPlus.

Investors in Biolex include Durham-based Intersouth Partners and the North Carolina Economic Development Fund.

Graves has worked with Biolex as a “close advisor” over the past six months, according to Biolex Chief Executive Officer Jan Turek. He currently is chief commercial officer and head of strategic development at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and executive chairman of Intarcia Therapeutics. Graves also has worked at Novartis in several different roles as well as Merck.

Get the latest news alerts: Follow LTW at Twitter.