Arbutus Biopharma Corporation (NASDAQ:ABUS) Q3 2018 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

Nov 07, 2018 • 04:30 pm ET


Arbutus Biopharma Corporation (NASDAQ:ABUS) Q3 2018 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript


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Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Arbutus Biopharma Corporation 2018 Third Quarter Financial Results and Corporate Update. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to introduce your host for today's conference. Ms. Pam Murphy, you may begin.

Pam Murphy

Thank you, and good afternoon. Thank you all for joining us. With me today are Dr. Mark Murray, Arbutus' CEO; Dr. Mike Sofia, Arbutus' Chief Scientific Officer; David Hastings, Arbutus' CFO and, Koert VandenEnden, Arbutus' CAO.

(Forward-Looking Cautionary Statements) I'd now like to pass the call to Mark for his introductory remarks. Mark?

Mark Murray

Thanks, Pam. And thank you to everyone for joining us on the call today. Our singular mission at Arbutus is to develop a cure for patients with chronic HBV. We believe this can best be achieved using an effective combination of complementary therapeutic agents administered for five nights treatment duration. To that end and we have developed a pipeline of proprietary therapeutic agents that target multiple aspects of the chronic HBV inception. The most important of which are HBV DNA replication, Hepatitis B surface antigen expression and immune reactivation.

We're confident that our broad proprietary pipeline of drug candidates will allow us to develop an effective combination therapy for HBV. We are now focused on two agents in our pipeline, AB-506 and AB-729, which we believe in combination could deliver a meaningful events over the current standard of care. Today I'm pleased to report that we have advanced our second-generation capsid inhibitor 506 into HBV patients.

Mike will further describe this study in a few minutes. Although we have confirmed that our first generation LNP-enabled RNAi agent 1467 can lower Hepatitis B surface engine in some patients, we are now focused on our subcutaneously delivered second generation RNAi agent AB-729. This is a GalNAc conjugate which Mike will also discuss in a few minutes. We anticipate that these two agents AB-506 and AB-729 will comprise an effective clinical combination. Provided the clinical trials for AB-506 and AB-729 proceed as expected, we anticipate initiating combination clinical trials with these two agents in the first half of 2020.

Now as most of you know, last month we announced our decision to delay initiation of a planned Phase 1 clinical trial of AB-452 based on emerging non-clinical safety findings. AB-452 is a new chemical entity acting via novel RNA destabilizing mechanism which targets Hepatitis B surface antigen expression, and we believe it is important that we take the time needed to further characterize the compound before deciding to initiate clinical studies.

In a few minutes, Mike Sofia will discuss the steps we're taking to better understand these results. But I want to assure you, that we remain confident that the RNA destabilizing mechanism represents a very relevant and important target and success here could be very meaningful for patients and for Arbutus. And for that reason, while we further characterize the AB-452 observations, we are advancing backup compounds that utilize the same mechanism.

Before turning