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.