Abbott Laboratories and partner Enanta Pharmaceuticals on Tuesday said they will move potential hepatitis C treatments into midstage development.

The companies said they will evaluate three potential hepatitis C drugs in Phase 2 clinical trials. The drug candidates include ABT-450, which was discovered through the partnership. Also moving into midstage development are ABT-333 and ABT-072, which were both discovered by Abbott.

The midstage studies will focus on safety, tolerability, and antiviral activity.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection causing swelling of the liver and can lead to scarring and potential liver failure.

The push to midstage studies by Abbott and Enanta are part of a larger movement by the pharmaceutical industry into new hepatitis C treatments.

Biotechnology company Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. is developing telaprevir. Schering-Plough, which is now part of Merck & Co., is working on the hepatitis C drug boceprevir. Anadys Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Gilead Sciences Inc. also have potential treatments in development.

Shares of Abbott, based in North Chicago, Ill., rose 19 cents to $54.48 in morning trading.