Benitec Initiates a Fourth Site in Hepatitis C Clinical Trial

SYDNEY, Sept. 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Benitec Biopharma Limited (NASDAQ: BNTC; NASDAQ: BNTCW; ASX: BLT) a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing innovative therapeutics based on its gene-silencing technology, DNA-directed RNA interference (ddRNAi), is pleased to announce it has initiated a new site for its ongoing Phase 1/2a TT-034 trial at the Methodist Health System Clinical Research Institute in Dallas, Texas.  The site has commenced pre-screening hepatitis C patients and is led by principal investigator Dr. Parvez Mantry, a gastroenterologist and hepatologist.

This brings the total number of trial sites to four, with Benitec already having established sites at the Duke Clinical Research Institute, the University of California San Diego and the Texas Liver Institute.

Benitec CEO and Managing Director Dr. Peter French said, "We are pleased to welcome a fourth site to join our first-in-man trial of TT-034, an innovative therapeutic based on Benitec's gene silencing technology, ddRNAi. The addition of this site reflects the growing interest from the medical community in Benitec's potentially transformational approach to treating and curing hepatitis C. Recruitment and dosing for the trial is proceeding well."

More detail on the TT-034 trial:  TT-034 is a ddRNAi-based therapeutic, designed to treat and potentially cure hepatitis C (HCV) with a single administration. TT-034 targets the hepatitis C viral RNA at three separate, highly conserved sites. As such it acts as a "triple therapy" even though it is a monotherapy, and minimises the ability of the virus to mutate and escape the therapy. Once it reaches the liver cells it enters the nucleus and produces three separate short hairpin RNAs continuously for the lifetime of the cell. Thus it has the potential to not only treat the existing HCV infection but to guard against reinfection for months to years without the need to re-treat. It has been extensively tested in pre-clinical in vivo studies and no adverse effects were seen at any therapeutic dose.  However, as it is regulated as a gene therapy, the trial design is to primarily ensure that treatment with TT-034 is safe, hence the gradual dose escalation.

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