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Arbutus Biopharma shares soar on Phase 1a/1b trial for its AB-729 hepatitis B drug

The company says the trial to be initiated shortly will initially be evaluated in healthy volunteers followed by chronic hepatitis B patients in single ascending dose cohorts
Hepatitis B virus
Shares of Arbutus Biopharma, an industry-leading hepatitis B virus therapeutic solutions company, were on the rise Thursday

Arbutus Biopharma Corporation (NASDAQ:ABUS), an industry-leading hepatitis B Virus (HBV) therapeutic solutions company, announced news Thursday that it has received clearance to initiate a Phase 1a/1b clinical trial of its drug AB-729, sending shares soaring.

“The Phase 1a/1b clinical trial of AB-729 is expected to initiate shortly and will initially be evaluated in healthy volunteers followed by chronic hepatitis B patients in single ascending dose cohorts," said chief development officer Dr Gaston Picchio.

Shares were up 54.7% at US$2.66 in New York.

Arbutus Biopharma focused on hepatits B

Arbutus Biopharma is dedicated to discovering, developing and commercializing a cure for those suffering from chronic hepatitis B infection, a disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).

The firm is developing a drug portfolio, aimed at ultimately curing hepatitis B. 

One of those drugs is AB-729, a once-a-month dose that can reduce viral antigens and inhibit HBV replication. After a number of toxicology studies, the firm said it received the go-ahead from regulators to begin the Phase 1a/1b clinical trial. Arbutus Biopharma also has another drug, AB-506, which is aimed at reducing the replication of the hepatits B virus. 

“We believe the combination of AB-729 and AB-506, our oral capsid inhibitor, has the potential to result in more profound inhibition of HBV replication in conjunction with a reduction in HBsAg levels thus enabling a reawakening of the patient’s immune system," added Picchio. "We also believe that these combined effects should lead to significantly higher rates of sustained HBsAg loss than the current standard of care after a yet-to-be-established finite dosing period.”

Contact Katie Lewis at [email protected]

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