Chardan Capital Markets Upgrades Arbutus Biopharma (ABUS) to Buy Amid Arrowhead Hepatitis B Program Discontinuations
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Chardan Capital Markets upgraded Arbutus Biopharma (NASDAQ: ABUS) from Neutral to Buy with a price target of $4.00 (from $3.00) after Arrowhead (Neutral) announced the discontinuation of all of its clinical RNAi programs, including the two HBV RNAi assets, ARC-520 and ARC-521. In light of the removal of the Arrowhead programs from development on EX-1 RNAi program discontinuations they increase Arbutus' market share in the HBV RNAi space from 17.5% to 47.5%.
Madhu Kumar commented, "Arrowhead's discontinuations, which are specific to the DPC platform, should have minimal read-across to Arbutus. The Arrowhead clinical hold for Heparc-2004 was due to deaths in "a nonclinical toxicology study in non-human primates using EX[-]1, the company's liver-targeted, intravenously administered delivery vehicle." EX-1 uses the DPC platform, which involves a second, non-therapeutic agent to promote delivery of the RNAi drug. In contrast, competing assets in the HBV RNAi space like ARB-1467 and ARB-1740 from Arbutus, which do not use DPC technology, should not face similar safety risks."
Shares of Arbutus Biopharma closed at $2.65 yesterday.
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