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Tribetarna Comments In Perspective

|Includes: Benitec Biopharma Ltd (BNIKF), BTEBY

An article that appeared in The Monthly at the weekend said:

Tribetarna is a treatment for non-small-cell lung cancer, which is the most common kind of lung cancer and does not respond to normal chemotherapy. The cancer cells contain a gene that produces a protein called class III beta-tubulin (βIII-tubulin), which protects them from chemotherapy drugs. Tribetarna (tri-beta-RNA) aims to "silence" that gene, preventing it from producing βIII-tubulin and rendering the cancer susceptible to normal treatment.

The results of the mice tests were promising, if not quite as good as had been hoped. Testing would continue. Science would grind on. If this treatment ever makes it to humans (years hence, or decades), it will improve the outlook for a lot of people with lung cancer, but it won't be a cure. There are no miracles.

This raised concerns about the progress of Tribetarna, Benitec's ($BNIKF, $BTEBY) pre-clinical treatment for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. These concerns were expressed as posts on other threads and as direct messages sent to me. In response to these messages I did agree to contact the company and seek clarification. Rather than reply to each individual poster/message-writer I thought that I would address the matter on this new post.

I have received a reply from the company and that reply confirms the suspicions that I expressed in my earlier response. I suspected that the experiments referred to in the story were not the mainline experiments which led the company to issue an announcement saying that Tribetarna had caused a significant increase survival times. In fact, the experiments referred to as "disappointing" in the story were experiments involving a possible refinement of Tribetarna which showed no ADDITIONAL improvements when compared to just Tribetarna. Naturally, the company would have liked to have seen the refinement achieve a greater outcome in terms of mice survival rates but that was not to be. That this was disappointing is understandable but in NO WAY detracts from the results claimed in the official announcement made by the company in December 2013.

The reply goes on the say that the FDA suggested some refinements to the pre-clinical work and the extent of these suggestions and the impact on the timetable will be discussed at the Annual General Meeting.

It would seem that rather than being a cause for concern, Tribetarna is receiving the full attention of the company and every effort is being made to make it acceptable to the FDA. This should speed up the approval process, even if it extends the pre-clinical timetable.

Hopefully, this explanation will alleviate the concerns of those interested in Tribetarna. If not, I believe the AGM may be webcast and so you may be able to hear the official company announcement yourselves.

Disclosure: The author is long BNIKF, BTEBY.

Additional disclosure: This article is not intended as investment advice. Readers should do their own research.