Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation has just revealed corporate plans to change its name to “Arbutus Biopharma Corporation”, shifting its focus to provide therapeutic solutions for chronic hepatitis B. This change will take effect by August 3, 2015 and follows the merger between Tekmira and OnCore Biopharma to form a single company with the most extensive HBV product portfolio in the industry.
Soon-to-be Arbutus Biopharma is headed by the following authorities in biopharmaceuticals and hepatitis research:
- Mark J. Murray, Ph.D., President and CEO; formerly of Protiva, Zymogentics, and Xcyte Therapeutics
- Patrick T. Higgins, Chief Business Officer; co-founder of OnCore BioPharma; formerly of Pharmasset and Roche
- Bruce Cousins, Chief Financial Officer; formerly of Aspreva and Johnson & Johnson
- Michael J. Sofia, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer; co-founder of OnCore BioPharma; formerly of Pharmasset (inventor of sofosbuvir for hepatitis C), Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Eli Lilly
- William T. Symonds, Pharm.D., Chief Development Officer; formerly of Gilead Sciences, Pharmasset (clinical development of sofosbuvir for hepatitis C), and GlaxoSmithKline
- Mark Kowalski, MD, Chief Medical Officer; formerly of Gilead Sciences, YM BioSciences, and Viventia Biotechnologies
- Peter Lutwyche Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer, formerly of Protiva, QLT, and Inex Pharmaceuticals
“We are very excited about the prospects for our integrated new company, which has undergone a transformation to a complete HBV solutions company. The company possesses exceptionally strong and proven clinical development, scientific, and commercial leadership teams and is very well resourced to execute against our goal of delivering a cure for chronic HBV. We believe that the market opportunity for a curative regimen for HBV is very significant, likely eclipsing the HCV market, and presents a meaningful opportunity for shareholders,” said Dr. Mark J. Murray, President and CEO of Tekmira. “We remain very confident in our potential to create value from our industry-leading strategy, team, and pipeline dedicated to developing therapeutic solutions to cure HBV.”
Tekmira will be focusing on enhancing the efficacy of combined therapies for HBV. The company will initially be determining pharmacokinetic activity, and safety and tolerability profiles of individual pipeline drugs before advancing to small-scale combination studies. What the company emphasized is the speed at which they will be conducting and going through these studies. Tekmira’s impressive product portfolio for HBV can be viewed here.
Aside from news on changing the company’s name, Tekmira has also created a low-key business department in charge of overseeing, developing and optimizing the company’s remaining non-HBV assets. The new business unit covers preclinical RNAi candidates, IP and everything related to the lipid nanoparticle (LNP) delivery platform, and several LNP-related partnerships. Former AnorMed CEO, Dr. Michael Abrams will serve as Managing Director of the division.
The NASDAQ opening bell on August 3, 2015 will be rung by the Company under its new name, Arbutus. Q2 financial results can be expected after the market close on August 5.