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Australian biotech company licenses technology to US company developing a breakthrough treatment for HIV/AIDS
Benitec Biopharma Ltd (ASX:BLT) has recently executed a non-exclusive licensing agreement with US-based biotech company Calimmune for the use of Benitec's gene silencing technology in a ground-breaking approach to treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Benitec Biopharma is a Sydney-based biopharmaceutical company. According to its CEO Dr Peter French, its platform technology has the potential to be the basis of the next wave of therapeutic products globally for diseases and conditions that are currently untreatable.

"Benitec Biopharma's technology comes from work done at CSIRO labs in the late 1990s and is now seeing the light of day as it advances towards clinical trials which are a vital step in bringing a medical breakthrough to the market," he said.

The technology is called DNA-directed RNA interference, or ddRNAi for short. It is capable of turning off any gene that is involved in causing or progressing disease and now Benitec Biopharma and other groups, including Calimmune, are applying it to the development of treatments for chronic and life-threatening human diseases.

The agreement with Calimmune covers the application of ddRNAi to target up to three key viral and cellular genes identified as significant therapeutic targets to inhibit HIV/AIDS infection. Calimmune is progressing toward clinical trials which are expected to start within the next few months.

Calimmune's approach to the application of ddRNAi to HIV/AIDS is highly innovative and has been developed with core technology from the lab of Dr David Baltimore, a Nobel Laureate in the area of HIV/AIDS.

Calimmune's Sydney-based Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Geoff Symonds said,
"Calimmune is really pleased to have completed this agreement with Benitec Biopharma which will help us continue the development of our novel therapeutics for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, and expand our clinical development programs utilising ddRNAi-based technology."

This license is in line with Benitec Biopharma's previously announced strategy to seek long-term partners in the development of ddRNAi-based anti-HIV therapeutics, motivated by the success of the US-based City of Hope Hospital clinical trial, which demonstrated long term expression of the ddRNAi construct in patients suffering from AIDS-related lymphoma, indicating the safety and feasibility of the approach.

"We are looking at this agreement as the first of many such licensing agreements with biotech and biopharmaceutical companies who see the potential of ddRNAi to transform medical treatment in a range of diseases", said Dr Peter French.

"During the negotiations we developed a strong working relationship with Calimmune, and both parties will benefit from the open communication that we have established to advance the technology both specifically in the area of HIV/AIDS and for ddRNAi in general.

"We are in discussion with other potential licensing partners, with the expectation of further progressing Benitec Biopharma's technology in a range of other serious chronic diseases with unmet needs," he concluded.

Benitec Biopharma is strongly focused on the research and development of its ddRNAi technology, whilst implementing a commercial strategy seeking to maximise potential through partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and selectively investing in in-house programs. The Company has a broad pipeline in multiple therapeutic areas, including hepatitis B, chronic pain and lung cancer.

Released for Benitec Biopharma by Dennis Rutzou Public Relations (
For further information please call Nicola Rutzou or Gill Asbury on (02) 9413 4244.

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