VRON-0200: A First-in-class treatment for chronic HBV infection

Where Is The Unmet Need?

Despite HBV Preventative Vaccines, Chronic Infection is a High Unmet Need​, with 1 in 4 People Infected, Dying Prematurely

Globally, 296 million people were estimated to be infected with HBV in 2019.1 HBV infection impairs CD8+ T cells resulting in the loss of viral control. This makes HBV an ideal target for immune modulators, though therapies using currently available technology have shown limited long-term clinical benefits. There is an urgent unmet need for effective therapies that stimulate new functional CD8+ T cells and restore viral control, to address the goal of functional cure for persons with chronic HBV.

Chronic HBV remains a global public health problem despite vaccination2

1 in 4 people with chronic HBV will die prematurely from liver cirrhosis, HCC, ​or liver failure3

Antivirals rarely achieve functional cure and require lifelong drug therapy4

CD8+ T cells become impaired during chronic HBV infection, resulting in loss of viral control​

Immune modulators for functional cure of chronic HBV have shown limited clinical benefits5–9​

Novel treatments are needed to stimulate new functional CD8+ T cells​

Vaccine approaches that stimulate naïve T cells to de novo epitopes may restore viral control10


cccDNA-infected hepatocytes

NEW HBV-specific ​CD8+ T cells to RESTORE  immune control​

How Does VRON-0200 Work?

VRON-0200 is designed with the goal of providing a functional cure for chronic HBV infection. While the virus itself stimulates expansion of HBV-specific CD8+ T cells, they soon become exhausted, placing limits on their ability to proliferate and control the virus.11 VRON-0200, through checkpoint modification, is able to mitigate this exhaustion by lowering the activation threshold and stimulating T cells to sub-dominant epitopes that are not activated by HBV infection, which promotes further CD8+ T cell expansion and viral control.12–17

Checkpoint modification by gD lowers the CD8+ T cell activation threshold​.

Addresses a global high unmet medical need​

Unique design for multiple HBV functional cure programs using selected HBV core & pol antigens​

HBV T cell immunotherapy with checkpoint modifier

  • Amplified & expanded immunogenicity of CD8+ T cell responses​
  • Required for antiviral activity​
  • By mechanism, may lower risk for serious “off-target” side effects​

Heterologous chimpanzee adenoviral vectors​

  • Limited pre-existing vector immunity​
  • Limited cross-vector immunity​
  • Allows for optimal prime/boost strategies​

VRON-0200: Targeted Antigen Selection​

Our goal is to develop a functional cure for chronic HBV infection. Research has shown that expansion of HBV-specific CD8+ T cells induced by the infection is limited by CD8+ T cell exhaustion. VRON-0200 induces a very potent and broad CD8+ T cell response that includes responses to the core and pol regions not normally induced by the infection; as such, a new and highly functional immune response is stimulated to help clear the virus.12–14

HBV DNA & S antigen Titers Produced By Different Hepatocyte Cell Types​

VRON-0200 targets the core & pol of HBV​.

VRON-0200: Antigen Selection & Testing​

The selection of components for our VIACT™ platform involved screening a total of 8,629 HBV viral genomes for consensus sequences across genotypes A through D. Discrepancies were adjudicated via HLA prediction algorithms for broadest possible human responses.

Individual regions tested separately for immunogenicity and breadth of responses​15,16

VRON-0200: Enhanced Frequency & Breadth of Response

Significantly enhanced frequencies of vaccine-induced IFNγ-producing CD8+ T cells, as well as a doubling breath of responses in spleens, in VRON-0200 treated animals.18


****p-values <0.0001 via 2-way ANOVA.

VRON-0200: Efficacy Evaluation

Multi-log HBV DNA viral load declines were observed with single intramuscular injection (AAV; gDPolN).10,18


Low dose – 1×10^9 vg; High dose – 1×10^10 vg.
**p-values between 0.001–0.01; ***p-values between 0.0001–0.001 via two-way ANOVA.
†Presented in part: EASL 2021: Abstract OS-2478.10

Significantly higher vaccine-induced CD8+ T cells were observed in the livers of VRON-0200 treated animals than those receiving vaccination without gD; this was found to be strongly inversely correlated with HBV DNA viral load measurements in blood.18


***p-values between 0.0001–0.001; ****p-values <0.0001 via 2-way ANOVA.
NB. AdC6-gDHBV2 is VRON-0200; AdC6-HBV2 is the same construct without gD.

AAV, adeno-associated virus; AdC6, heterologous chimpanzee adenoviral viral vector of serotype 6; ANOVA, analysis of variance; BL, baseline; cccDNA, covalently closed circular DNA; CD, cluster of differentiation; F, flare; gD, glycoprotein D; HBV, hepatitis B virus; HBV2, core & pol without gD; HCC, hepatocellular carcinoma; HLA, human leukocyte antigen; ICS, intracellular cytokine staining; IFN, interferon; IM, intramuscular; NF, no flare; NRTI, nucleos(t)ide reverse transcriptase inhibitor; pol, polymerase; PolN, N terminus of polymerase; PolC, C terminus of polymerase, vg, viral genomes; vp, viral particles; VRON-0200, core and pol fused with gD.

  1. WHO Hepatitis B Fact Sheet, 18 July 2023.
    Available: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-b. Accessed September 2023.
  2. Bertoletti A, et al. J Hepatol. 2016;64(1 Suppl):S71–83.
  3. Lok ASF, McMahon BJ. Hepatology. 2009;50:661–2.
  4. Tsounis EP, et al. World J Gastroenterol. 2021;27:2727–57.
  5. Boni C, et al. Gastroenterology. 2019;157:227–41.
  6. Gane E, et al. J Hepatol. 2019;71:900–7.
  7. Janssen H, et al. AASLD 2020:Abstract 0829.
  8. Zoulim F, et al. Hum Vaccin Immunother . 2020;16:388–99.
  9. Jansen DT, et al. Clin Trans Immunology. 2021;10:e1232.
  10. Hasanpourghadi M, et al. EASL 2021:Abstract OS-2478.
  11. Lee J, et al. For Immunopathol Dis Therap.. 2015;6:7–17.
  12. Le Bert N, et al. Gastroenterology. 2020;159;2:652–64.
  13. Rivino L, et al. J Clin Invest. 2018;128:668–81.
  14. Cornberg M, et al. J Hepatol. 2017;66:398–411.
  15. Hasanpourghadi M, et al. EASL 2020:Abstract 1303.
  16. Virion Therapeutics. Data on file.
  17. Hasanpourghadi M, et al. APASL 2022:Abstract OS-0685.
  18. Luber A, et al. EASL 2023. Poster #TOP-107.