Benitec's RNA interference-based hepatitis B candidate reduces HBV DNA by 98.5% in mouse model; shares up 26%

|By:, SA News Editor

Sydney, Australia-based Benitec (NASDAQ:BNTC) announces that its DNA-directed RNA interference (ddRNAi) candidate, BB-HB-331, showed robust and durable hepatitis B virus (HBV) suppression in vivo following a single administration.

The HBV suppression activity of BB-HB-331 was assessed in the Phoenix mouse model in which murine liver cells were replaced by human hepatocytes which made them susceptible to HBV infection. Once infected, the mice received a single systemic injection of BB-HB-331. Serum antigen levels, HBV viral proteins and extracellular HBV DNA were measured once per week for the duration of the eight-week study.

Results showed a 1.83 log knockdown of serum HBV DNA, equivalent to a 98.5% reduction of circulating HBV. In addition, intracellular HBV DNA was reduced 94.9% while HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) and e antigen (HBeAg) were reduced by 97.6% and 92.6%, respectively. The results validated the previously reported in vitro findings.

BB-HB-331 combines the gene silencing of RNA interference with the therapeutic potential of gene therapy. It is comprised of an AAV8 capsid (protein shell of a virus) and recombinant DNA engineered to express three short hairpin RNAs that target and inhibit viral RNA expressed from three regions across multiple HBV genotypes. The company plans to advance BB-HB-331 to clinical development.

Previously: Benitec Biopharma's ddRNAi therapeutic candidate shows potent anti-HBV antigen activity in preclinical testing; shares up 14% (Dec. 7, 2015)

HBV-related tickers: (NASDAQ:GILD)(OTCQB:COCP)(NYSE:GSK)(NASDAQ:IONS)(NASDAQ:DVAX)(NYSE:JNJ)(NASDAQ:ARWR)(NYSE:MRK)(NASDAQ:CTRV)(NASDAQ:ABUS)(NYSE:SNY)(NASDAQ:ALNY)(NYSE:BMY)

Update: Shares up 26% in early trading.

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