In a research report issued today, Maxim Group analyst Jason Kolbert maintained a Buy rating on Tekmira Pharma (NASDAQ:TKMR) with a $27 price target, as the company announced that it has dosed the first subject in a Phase I clinical trial of TKM-HBV, a therapeutic agent designed to reduce hepatitis B surface antigen in patients chronically infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV).

Kolbert noted, “Establishing a positive safety profile for TKM-HBV will enable Tekmira to expand the anti-HBV platform to combinations with one or more of the recently acquired OnCore (private-acquired) Hepatitis B drug candidates.”

The analyst continued, “The pipeline of the now combined Tekmira and OnCore will have drug candidates aimed at three points of the viral lifecycle. Tekmira’s TKM-HBV is designed to eliminate the HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) expression. This drug is expected to begin clinical trials in 1Q15. The merger adds OCB-030, a cyclophilin inhibitor to suppress viral replication and stimulate the body’s immune response, expected to begin phase I clinical trials in 2H15. Other products in development are aimed at the covalently closed circular DNA, cccDNA, that persists in the nucleus and provides the source of HBV genomic material that can be activated for future infections.”¬†

Furthermore, “Current drugs can suppress the replication of the virus, but do not work to prevent reinfection. Developing drugs aimed at these three points of the viral lifecycle should eliminate the viral replication in the active and inactive phases that cause future infections. If therapy with current drugs stops, the viral load can return. The “three pillared” approach could potentially be a curative regimen.”