Dicerna and Roche collaborate on chronic Hep B treatment

Nov. 4, 2019

Dicerna Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced a research collaboration and licensing agreement with Roche to develop therapies for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection using Dicerna’s proprietary GalXC RNAi platform technology. The collaboration will focus on worldwide development and commercialization of DCR-HBVS, Dicerna’s investigational therapy in Phase 1 clinical development.

“Dicerna is excited to collaborate with Roche to realize the full potential of DCR-HBVS and leverage our GalXC platform to target and silence specific genes that contribute to chronic hepatitis B virus infection,” said Douglas M. Fambrough, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Dicerna. “With its deep expertise in HBV and established global infrastructure, Roche is ideally suited to help us accelerate the development and commercialization of DCR-HBVS, pursue a cure for chronic HBV infection, and address this serious global threat to public health.”

"We are excited to engage in a clinical partnership and research collaboration with Dicerna,” said John Young, global head of Infectious Diseases at Roche Pharma Early Research & Development. “This partnership builds upon our existing portfolio and internal expertise and positions us well to develop a best-in-disease therapy to cure chronic HBV infection."

Dicerna and Roche also agreed to collaborate on the research and development of additional therapies targeting multiple human and viral genes implicated in chronic HBV infection, using technology from both companies.

The transaction is subject to the expiration or termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 and other customary conditions.

HBV is the world’s most common serious liver infection, with more than 292 million patients chronically infected, according to the World Health Organization. Chronic HBV infection, a condition characterized by the presence of the HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) for six months or more, claims more than 800,000 lives annually. HBV is also the primary cause of liver cancer (also known as hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC), which is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the world.

DCR-HBVS is an investigational drug in development for the treatment of chronic HBV infection. Current therapies for HBV, such as nucleoside analogs, can provide long-term viral suppression if taken continuously, but they rarely lead to long-term functional cures, as measured by the clearance of HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) and sustained HBV deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) suppression in patient plasma or blood. By contrast, DCR-HBVS employs RNA interference to selectively knock down specific genes involved in the creation of HBV messenger RNA (mRNA) and the entry of the virus into liver cells. This approach leads to greater than 99.9% reduction in circulating HBsAg, as observed in mouse models of HBV infection. These data suggest that DCR-HBVS may induce clearance of HBsAg and contribute meaningfully to a functional cure for HBV.

Dicerna is conducting a Phase 1, randomized, placebo-controlled study designed to evaluate the safety and tolerability of DCR-HBVS in healthy volunteers (HVs) and in patients with non-cirrhotic chronic HBV infection.

Dicerna has the release.