Friday, February 26, 2016

Benitec (BLT.AX) to Wind Down and Terminate Hep C Program

Benitec (BLT.AX) to Wind Down and Terminate Hep C Program

Update on TT-034 Hepatitis C Clinical Trial

- A conference call and webcast on this announcement and the Interim Report will be held on Tuesday March 1 at 8:30am AEDT (Australian Eastern Daylight time) and simultaneously on Monday February 29 at 4.30pm EST (US Eastern Standard time)

SYDNEY, Feb. 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Benitec Biopharma (ASX: BLT; NASDAQ: BNTC; NASDAQ: BNTCW) announced today that it will wind-down its hepatitis C program and terminate it upon completion of patients in Cohort 4 in its Phase I/IIa clinical trial for TT-034.

Benitec's Board made the decision to discontinue the hepatitis C program following a review of the commercial opportunities for TT-034. A number of effective therapies have become available for the treatment of hepatitis C since Benitec commenced its clinical trial in January 2014. In recent months, several competitors have made improvements in the efficacy, delivery and success rates of their product treatments while continuing to reduce pricing and treatment duration.

As a result of this increasing competitive landscape and the time required to get TT-034 to market, TT-034 has generated limited and diminishing partnering interest from pharmaceutical companies. The Board has today concluded that the hepatitis C program does not offer the commercial value necessary to attract a worthwhile partnership deal and, as a result, does not warrant additional expenditure or focus of company resources beyond completion of patients in Cohort 4.

Completing the work with patients in Cohort 4 can provide Benitec with valuable data that supports and validates the company's ddRNAi technology platform and other pipeline programs. Benitec is committed to completing the collection of trial data and monitoring patients through the required long-term safety follow-up period. Final data supporting the primary and secondary endpoints of the study will be reported in CYQ4 2016 when the study is completed.

No significant financial obligation will arise from the discontinuance of the hepatitis C program.

Although the hepatitis C program is being discontinued, it is important to note that TT-034 has been shown to be safe and well tolerated, meeting the primary endpoint of the study and, as such, will assist in other programs.

Benitec's Chief Scientific Officer Dr. David Suhy said, "The TT-034 hepatitis C program is a First-in-Man trial. The data presented to date shows that TT-034 transduces hepatic tissues, expresses the anti-HCV shRNA and has a favorable safety profile with no significant adverse events reported relating to the administration of the study drug. Considering the novel characteristics of the drug, administered in a manner that cannot be withdrawn, we are pleased with the validity that TT-034 has shown in this trial. It has provided solid proof of concept for our ddRNAi platform and our other pipeline programs, particularly our hepatitis B program."

Benitec remains focused on advancing its other pipeline programs, including hepatitis B, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD). The company believes that each of these programs presents attractive commercial opportunities. In particular, the hepatitis B program is attracting considerable interest from pharmaceutical companies. Based on this interest and anticipated in vivo data, combined with a significant potential market opportunity, Benitec will now prioritise the hepatitis B program as its next candidate for clinical development.

Webcast Information and Conference Call:

The Company will host a live audio webcast and conference call on Tuesday, 1 March at 8:30am AEDT/ Monday, 29 February at 4.30pm EST, to provide an operational and financial update.

To access the live webcast please enter at into your internet browser. Investors will be able to submit questions in writing via the webcast, to be addressed by Benitec's management during the call. To access the conference call please use the dial in details below.

Conference ID: 418337

US dial in: +1 855 624 0077

Australia dial in: 1800 908 299 or 1800 455 963

All other locations dial: +61 2 9007 8048

Shareholders are encouraged to use the webcast link, as conference call lines are limited.

An archive of the webcast will remain available on Benitec's website for 90 days beginning at approximately 5:30pm EST on 1 March 2016. For further information regarding Benitec and its activities, please contact the persons below, or visit the Benitec website at

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