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Assembly Biosciences And Arbutus Biopharma Announce Clinical Collaboration Agreement To Evaluate The Combination Of Core Inhibitor ABI-H0731 With RNAi Therapeutic AB-729 In Patients With Chronic Hepatitis B Virus Infection

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. and WARMINSTER, Pa., Aug. 27, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Assembly Biosciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASMB) and Arbutus Biopharma Corporation (NASDAQ:ABUS), today announced that the companies have entered

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SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. and WARMINSTER, Pa., Aug. 27, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Assembly Biosciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASMB) and Arbutus Biopharma Corporation (NASDAQ:ABUS), today announced that the companies have entered into a clinical collaboration agreement to evaluate Assembly’s lead hepatitis B virus (HBV) core inhibitor candidate ABI-H0731 in combination with Arbutus’ proprietary GalNAc delivered RNAi therapeutic AB-729 and standard-of-care nucleos(t)ide reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NrtI) therapy for the treatment of patients with chronic HBV infection.

A randomized, multi-center, open-label Phase 2 clinical trial will explore the safety, pharmacokinetics, and antiviral activity of the triple combination of HBV core inhibitor ABI-H0731, RNAi therapeutic AB-729 and an NrtI compared to the double combinations of ABI-H0731 with an NrtI and AB-729 with an NrtI. This clinical trial is projected to initiate in the first half of 2021 and enroll approximately 60 virologically-suppressed patients with HBeAg negative or positive chronic HBV infection. Patients will be dosed for 48 weeks, with a 24 week follow-up period. As part of the collaboration, the companies may add cohorts in the future, to evaluate other patient populations and/or combinations. 

“Our team at Assembly is committed to driving the field of HBV research toward the ultimate goals of finite therapy and cure,” said John McHutchison, AO, MD, Chief Executive Officer and President of Assembly Biosciences. “One of our key priorities for this year has been to execute a clinical collaboration to initiate a new combination therapy trial, as we believe that multi-drug combinations with non-overlapping mechanisms may result in higher response rates and potentially shorten the duration of treatment. We are excited to combine what we view as the most advanced core inhibitor with a promising RNAi therapeutic in this new trial as we continue to work to advance novel treatment options for patients living with this chronic disease.”

William Collier, President and Chief Executive Officer of Arbutus, stated, “Arbutus is focused on discovering and developing a cure for chronic hepatitis B. We maintain this can best be accomplished through a combination of agents with different mechanisms of action that target distinct parts of the virus lifecycle. To this end, we are advancing a proprietary portfolio of compounds at various stages of clinical and preclinical development that have the potential to lead to a functional cure with a finite treatment duration.”

Mr. Collier added, “This clinical collaboration in which both companies share expertise and costs has the potential to provide proof of concept data regarding the safety and efficacy of combining some of the most promising drug candidates and expedite efforts to advance a much needed HBV treatment regimen.”