Arbutus Biopharma Corporation (NASDAQ: ABUS) is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company leveraging its extensive virology expertise to develop novel therapeutics that target specific viral diseases. The Company’s current focus areas include Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and coronaviruses. In HBV, Arbutus is developing a RNAi therapeutic, oral capsid inhibitor, oral PD-L1 inhibitor, and oral RNA destabilizer that they intend to combine to improve the outcomes of patients with chronic HBV by suppressing viral replication, reducing surface antigen and reawakening the immune system. Arbutus’ lead compound, AB-729 is the only RNAi therapeutic with evidence of immune re-awakening and is currently being evaluated in multiple phase 2 clinical trials. Arbutus has an ongoing drug discovery and development program directed to identifying novel, orally active agents for treating coronavirus (including COVID-19). Arbutus is also exploring oncology applications for its internal PD-L1 portfolio.


Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by HBV. HBV can cause chronic infection which leads to a higher risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer. Chronic HBV infection represents a significant unmet medical need. The World Health Organization estimates that over 250 million people worldwide suffer from chronic HBV infection, while other estimates indicate that approximately 2 million people in the United States suffer from chronic HBV infection. Approximately 820,000 people die every year from complications related to chronic HBV infection despite the availability of effective vaccines and current treatment options.

Today’s current treatment options include nucleos(t)ide analogs (“NA”) and pegylated interferon regimens (“Peg-IFN”). However, less than 5% of patients are cured by these current treatment options after a finite treatment duration. With such low cure rates, most patients with chronic HBV infection are required to take NA therapy daily for the rest of their lives.


Our focus is on developing new HBV treatment regimens with finite treatment durations and higher cure rates. We define a cure as a functional cure where HBV DNA replication and hepatitis B surface antigen (“HBsAg”) expression are reduced to undetectable levels and sustained six months after a finite duration of therapy. Our HBV product pipeline includes RNA interference (“RNAi”) therapeutics, oral capsid inhibitors, oral compounds that inhibit PDL1 and oral HBV RNA destabilizers. We believe a combination of these product candidates could lead to a curative treatment regimen with a finite duration for patients with chronic HBV infection.


There is a compelling market opportunity for an HBV curative regimen. Currently, an estimated 27 million (10.5%) of a total of over 250 million people worldwide with chronic HBV infection are diagnosed and approximately 4.5 million (1.8%) are on treatment. We believe that the introduction of an HBV curative regimen with a finite duration would substantially increase diagnosis and treatment rates for patients with chronic HBV.