The latest scientific paper about Benitec's (OTCPK:BNIKF) TT-034 treatment for Hepatitis C (HCV) is not only interesting for its scientific content but also because of its authorship. The paper entitled "Deep Sequencing Insights in Therapeutic shRNA Processing and siRNA Target Cleavage Precision" published in Molecular Therapy Nucleic Acids has fourteen authors listed of which eleven are Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) employees and only one, Dr Suhy, is a Benitec/Tacere scientist.
TT-034 evolved from TT-033 due to the involvement of Pfizer after their $140M deal with Tacere. This refinement saw the virtual elimination of the cytotoxicity associated with earlier versions of the treatment. When Pfizer closed its R&D plant in Sandwich, UK it was thought that this program also was completely shut down as all the rights to the product were returned to Tacere. However, the commitment of these scientists mentioned above indicates that this program is far from "out of sight, out of mind" for Pfizer. It will be interesting to see if that company seeks to further its involvement and investment after the early results of the clinical trial are released.
The paper is also interesting because it highlights the complexity of intracellular processes and the difficulties that scientists have in measuring such processes. The good news for Benitec is that this more detailed study seems to provide even stronger pre-clinical evidence that TT-034 will be successful against HCV.
The publication of this latest paper certainly spices up the wait for the clinical outcomes of the TT-034 trial and should give investors even more confidence in their investment.
Disclosure: I am long BNIKF.