Combination treatments including the small-interfering RNA JNJ-3989 induce rapid and sometimes prolonged viral responses in patients with CHB

J Hepatol. 2022 Nov;77(5):1287-1298. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2022.07.010. Epub 2022 Jul 20.


Background & aims: RNA interference therapy has been shown to reduce hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) levels in preclinical models, which could confer functional cure in patients with chronic hepatitis B. This phase IIa trial ( Identifier: NCT03365947) assessed the safety and efficacy of the small-interfering RNA JNJ-73763989 (JNJ-3989) plus a nucleos(t)ide analogue (NA), with/without the capsid assembly modulator JNJ-56136379 (JNJ-6379) in patients with chronic hepatitis B.

Methods: Treatment-naïve and NA-suppressed patients received 3 subcutaneous JNJ-3989 doses every week (QW; 100, 200, or 300 mg), 2 weeks (Q2W; 100 mg) or 4 weeks (Q4W; 25, 50, 100, 200, 300, or 400 mg), or JNJ-3989 Q4W (200 mg) plus oral JNJ-6379 250 mg daily for 12 weeks. Patients received NAs throughout.

Results: Eighty-four patients were recruited. All treatments were well tolerated, with all 5 serious adverse events considered unrelated to study drugs. JNJ-3989 100 to 400 mg Q4W resulted in HBsAg reductions ≥1 log10 IU/ml from baseline in 39/40 (97.5%) patients at the nadir. All patients receiving the triple combination (n = 12) had HBsAg reductions ≥1 log10 IU/ml from baseline at the nadir. HBsAg reductions were similar for HBeAg-positive (n = 21) and HBeAg-negative (n = 47) patients in all JNJ-3989 Q4W treatment arms, including the triple combination (n = 68). Smaller HBsAg reductions were seen with 25 mg (n = 8) and 50 mg (n = 8) than with 100 to 400 mg (n = 40). Shorter dosing intervals (QW [n = 12] and Q2W [n = 4]) did not improve response vs. Q4W dosing. HBsAg reductions ≥1 log10 IU/ml from baseline persisted in 38% of patients 336 days after the last JNJ-3989 dose.

Conclusions: JNJ-3989 plus an NA, with/without JNJ-6379, was well tolerated and resulted in HBsAg reductions up to 336 days after the last JNJ-3989 Q4W dose.

Clinical trial number: NCT03365947.

Lay summary: Hepatitis B virus affects people's livers and produces particles called hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) that damage a person's liver and can help the virus infect a person for a long time, known as chronic hepatitis B (CHB). In this study, a new treatment called JNJ-3989 was assessed (in combination with normal treatment known as nucleos(t)ide analogues), for its safety and effectiveness in reducing the number of HBsAg particles in people with CHB. The results of this study showed that treatment with JNJ-3989 could be safe for people with CHB, lowered their HBsAg levels, and kept HBsAg levels lowered for 336 days in 38% of patients after receiving their last dose of JNJ-3989.

Keywords: Hepatitis B virus; JNJ-3989; RNA interference; antiviral therapy; chronic hepatitis B; hepatitis B surface antigen.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / adverse effects
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • Hepatitis B e Antigens
  • Hepatitis B virus / genetics
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Organic Chemicals
  • RNA, Small Interfering* / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Hepatitis B e Antigens
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • JNJ-56136379
  • Organic Chemicals
  • RNA, Small Interfering

Associated data