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

Nov 07, 2018 • 04:30 pm ET


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


Loading Event

Loading Transcript

Mark Murray

the call over to Mike, I think it's worth noting that the FDA recently issued guidance regarding the development and approval of new HBV therapies. This guidance is timely and helpful to Arbutus, because it illustrates a path through approval for new HBV therapies. The guidance anticipates the use of combination therapy and outlines what is needed to demonstrate safety, efficacy and durability of response. Also this quarter, Alnylam announced approval of ONPATTRO, an RNAi therapeutic they have developed for the treatment of hereditary ATTR amyloidosis. Arbutus is entitled to a royalty on global sales of ONPATTRO for the LNP technology license for Arbutus to Alnylam for this product.

We expect to receive our first royalty payment in the fourth quarter, and this could also be precise source of non-dilutive capital for us. I'll now turn the call over to Mike Sofia.

Mike Sofia

Thanks Mark. As Mark said we're committed to developing a cure for chronic Hepatitis B using an effective combination of therapeutic agents administered for a finite treatment duration. Our initial target is focused on fully blocking HBV DNA replication and reducing (inaudible) and eliminating surface antigens. To that end, we have identified a novel and very compelling target which very selectively destabilizes or degrades all HBV RNAs, and thus, as effects on many aspects of a virus lifecycle, including DNA replication and surface antigen production.

We've also identified a series of molecules exemplified by AB-452, which are potent and highly selective for Hepatitis C virus. These molecules, when in the presence of the Hepatitis B virus P or E sequence, shortened the viral RNA poly(A) tail, thereby making them susceptible for degradation. This target mechanism is novel and is very exciting. Success here could enable our ultimate aspiration to provide a more effective all oral regimen for Hepatitis B patients.

Today I'm not going to comment further only AB-452 observations Mark mentioned, other than to say that, we've initiated a series of studies designed to fully understand the effects we have observed, including determining that the effects we have seen are species specific that is may not occur in man and if they are AB-452 specific are mechanism based. These studies will require several months to complete and we will provide an update when we resolve these questions.

In the meantime, we're advancing a number of potent backup compounds with similar potent RNA destabilizing activity. At this time, it's difficult to predict when we will have a lead backup compound ready for IND enabling studies. I hope to be able to provide you with more details on the AB-452 as well as the backup program in the coming months. As part of our commitment to target antigen reduction, we've also developed a second generation RNAi agent that acts for a different mechanism than AB-452 that is AB-729. AB-729 employs a single RNAi trigger which spans all of the ABV transcripts and reduces all of the viral antigens. Importantly, AB-729 also employs our proprietary GalNAc parasite targeting technology, which