Australia's Benitec buys out China partner for A$2.5M in hep B effort

Australia-listed Benitec Biopharma has bought the rights to the preclinical ddRNAi-based hepatitis B therapeutic program, Hepbarna, from partner China-based Biomics Biotechnologies, branching out as it looks to raise cash on the U.S. market.

Benitec said in a release that it will pay Biomics A$2.5 million, with an additional A$3.5 million possible on successful commercialization of the program, which was previously a joint venture. Biomics will receive a single-digit royalty on net sales if the product is marketed.

"Over the past 12 months, Benitec has advanced the program significantly, and based on promising in vitro data, has taken the decision to develop Hepbarna as a solely owned lead program by acquiring Biomics' share," the company said in a July 9 press release.

Last month, Benitec Biopharma said it plans to list on the Nasdaq in an initial public offering in the United States that would raise as much as $70 million, according to a June 23 proxy notice to existing shareholders.

The company said it would use the funds for its working capital and general corporate purposes. In addition to the hepatitis B effort, Benitec is developing gene therapies for hepatitis C based on RNA interference among others, according to its website.

- here's the Benitec release