Arrowhead Research (ARWR) shares were sliding hard on disappointing data from its experimental hepatitis B therapy ARC-520, released at 10 a.m. EST. 

In an ongoing phase II study, ARC-520 dosed at 2 mg/kg induced a 0.3 log reduction in HBsAG, which is a measure of the presence of hepatitis B virus in the body. The observed treatment effect for ARC-520 at this dose is much lower than investors expected. When Arrowhead first announced results from this study in August, the company didn't provide specific numbers but hinted that the viral reduction was closer to (but not quite) 1 log. A 0.3-log reduction is nowhere close to 1-log reduction, which explains why Arrowhead stock is selling off. 

Arrowhead shares were down 30% to $8.80.

The specific data on ARC-520 disclosed this morning was contained in a late-breaker abstract for the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD) annual meeting, which is being held in November. 

The phase II study of ARC-520 in hepatitis B patients is ongoing and Arrowhead is exploring higher doses of the drug, hoping to see a more robust effect. But results from higher doses of ARC-520 have not yet been announced. 

Here is the nut graph from the ARC-520 AASLD late-breaker abstract which caused Arrowhead shares to sink:

ARC-520 activity is assessed by measuring percent change of quantitative HBsAg decline from baseline. For patients receiving ARC-520 in cohort 1, mean nadir HBsAg was -39% (range -22 to -57) with a mean change on day 85 of -31% (range -14 to -39). For patients receiving ARC-520 in cohort 2, mean nadir  HBsAg was - 51% (range -46 to -59) with a mean change on day 85 of -22% (range -7 to -40). For cohort 2, the percent reduction in HBsAg was statistically significant vs placebo for Days 3 through 43 post dose. This is the first time that a reduction in HBsAg mediated through RNA interference has been shown in chronic HBV patients.
There is a formula to convert percent change in quantitative HBsAg decline from baseline into a log reduction. The 51% reduction disclosed in the abstract for the 2 mg/kg dose of ARC-520 equates to a 0.3-log reduction.


Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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