Press Release

Assembly Biosciences Reports Fourth Quarter and Year End 2020 Financial Results and Recent Highlights

February 25, 2021 at 4:05 PM EST

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Feb. 25, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Assembly Biosciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: ASMB), a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing innovative therapeutics targeting hepatitis B virus (HBV), today reported financial results and recent highlights for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2020.

“Our strategy for 2021 and beyond is to focus entirely on developing finite and curative therapies that have the potential to free patients with chronic HBV infection from a lifetime of therapy. We are well positioned to do this by advancing our more potent next generation core inhibitors, which include three novel compounds in the clinic and a fourth candidate in pre-IND development, exploring multiple triple combination studies of vebicorvir with complementary mechanisms of action, and expanding our internal research efforts to discover and develop candidates against novel targets,” said John McHutchison, AO, MD, Chief Executive Officer and President of Assembly Bio.

Fourth Quarter 2020 and Recent Highlights

  • Strategy and resources fully focused on pursuing finite and curative therapies for chronic HBV:
    • As announced separately today, Assembly Bio will forgo initiation of Phase 3 registrational studies of vebicorvir (VBR) as a chronic suppressive therapy to concentrate research and development efforts on identifying a finite and curative therapy.
    • By directing all resources to support its finite and curative strategy, the company expects to advance these initiatives more quickly, while simultaneously extending its cash runway into 2023.
    • Assembly Bio is hosting a webcast and conference call today at 5:00 p.m. ET. The live audio webcast may be accessed through the “Events & Presentations” page in the “Investors” section of Assembly Bio’s website at
  • Initiated a Phase 2 triple combination study evaluating the addition of peg-IFNα to the VBR+ nucleos(t)ide analog reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NrtI) antiviral backbone in patients with chronic HBV infection.
  • Entered into collaboration with Door Pharmaceuticals to discover and develop a novel class of HBV cccDNA disruptors that target different phases of the HBV replication cycle distinct from and complementary to those targeted by Assembly Bio’s existing pipeline compounds.
  • Presented four posters at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) Annual Meeting in November 2020, including data from the company’s HBV core inhibitor research and development programs, as well as a collaborative translational study using Assembly Bio’s sensitive HBV nucleic acid assays.
  • Reported data in early November 2020 from Study 211 on the dual combination of VBR+Nrtl to assess off-treatment response in patients with chronic HBV infection, which did not achieve a meaningful rate of sustained virologic response (SVR).
  • Substantially completed wind-down of Assembly Bio’s Microbiome program.
  • Appointed Nicole S. White, PhD, as Senior Vice President of Pharmaceutical Development and Manufacturing.
  • Appointed Gina Consylman, Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to Board of Directors.

2021 Key Objectives and Anticipated Progress

  • Initiate Phase 2 triple combination study with Arbutus Biopharma Corporation evaluating VBR, RNAi therapeutic AB-729, and NrtI therapy in virologically-suppressed patients in H1 2021.
  • Nominate a best-in-class fourth core inhibitor candidate in H1 2021.
  • Anticipate interim data from Phase 2 study with ABI-H2158 in H2 2021.
  • Expect to progress two additional internal programs evaluating differentiated and undisclosed targets.

Fourth Quarter 2020 and Year End Financial Results

  • Cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities were $216.4 million as of December 31, 2020, compared to $237.9 million as of September 30, 2020, and $274.0 million as of the year ended December 31, 2019. This result includes the $5.5 million of net proceeds from the issuance of common shares under Assembly Bio’s at-the-market (ATM) program. Subsequently, net proceeds from Assembly Bio’s ATM program during January and February 2021 to-date were $25.5 million. The company’s cash position is projected to fund operations into 2023.
  • Revenues from collaborative research were $1.0 million for the three months ended December 31, 2020, compared to $4.8 million for the same period in 2019, and $79.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to $16.0 million in 2019. The year-over-year increase was primarily due to the $31.0 million recognized under the collaboration agreement with BeiGene, Ltd. (BeiGene) and the remaining deferred revenue balance of $37.0 million incurred under the collaboration agreement with Abbvie Inc. (Allergan Pharmaceuticals International Limited prior to Abbvie’s acquisition of Allergan).
  • Research and development expenses were $33.5 million for the three months ended December 31, 2020, compared to $22.6 million for the same period in 2019, and $106.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to $85.8 million in 2019. The increase was primarily due to an increase of $14.4 million in research and development expenses related to the HBV program and one-time expenses of $5.7 million related to the microbiome program wind down. Research and development expenses include non-cash stock-based compensation expenses of $11.4 million for both of the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019.
  • General and administrative expenses were $7.2 million for the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to $10.8 million for the same period in 2019, and $37.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to $32.9 million in 2019. The increase was primarily due to an increase of $2.7 million of expenses related to entering into the collaboration agreement with BeiGene. General and administrative expenses include non-cash stock-based compensation expenses of $10.5 million for year ended December 31, 2020 and $9.2 million for the same period in 2019.
  • Net loss attributable to common stockholders was $39.4 million, or $1.10 per basic and diluted share, for the three months ended December 31, 2020, compared to $27.1 million, or $1.06 per basic and diluted share, for the same period in 2019. For the year ended December 31, 2020, net loss was $62.2 million, or $1.75 per basic and diluted share, compared to $97.6 million, or $3.72 per basic and diluted share, for the year ended December 31, 2019.

About Assembly Biosciences
Assembly Bio is a clinical-stage biotechnology company committed to bringing finite and curative therapies to the 270 million people living with hepatitis B virus (HBV) worldwide. A pioneer in the development of a new class of potent, oral core inhibitor drug candidates, Assembly Bio’s approach aims to break the complex viral replication cycle of HBV to free patients from a lifetime of therapy. Assembly Bio’s strategy toward cure includes a leading portfolio of more potent, next-generation core inhibitors, proof-of-concept combination studies and a research program focused on the discovery of novel HBV targets. For more information, visit

Forward-Looking Statements
The information in this press release contains forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to materially differ. These risks and uncertainties include:  Assembly Bio’s ability to initiate and complete clinical studies involving its HBV therapeutic product candidates, including studies contemplated by Assembly Bio’s clinical collaboration agreements, in the currently anticipated timeframes; safety and efficacy data from clinical studies may not warrant further development of Assembly Bio’s product candidates; clinical and nonclinical data presented at conferences may not differentiate Assembly Bio’s product candidates from other companies’ candidates; continued development and commercialization of Assembly Bio’s HBV product candidates, if successful, in the China territory will be dependent on, and subject to, Assembly Bio’s collaboration agreement governing its activity in the China territory; Assembly Bio’s ability to maintain financial resources necessary to continue its clinical studies and fund business operations; any impact that the COVID-19 pandemic may have on Assembly Bio’s business and operations, including initiation and continuation of its clinical studies or timing of discussions with regulatory authorities; and other risks identified from time to time in Assembly Bio’s reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC). You are urged to consider statements that include the words may, will, would, could, should, might, believes, hopes, estimates, projects, potential, expects, plans, anticipates, intends, continues, forecast, designed, goal or the negative of those words or other comparable words to be uncertain and forward-looking. Assembly Bio intends such forward-looking statements to be covered by the safe harbor provisions contained in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. More information about Assembly Bio’s risks and uncertainties are more fully detailed under the heading “Risk Factors” in Assembly Bio’s filings with the SEC, including its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K. Except as required by law, Assembly Bio assumes no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Investor and Corporate:
Lauren Glaser
Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs
(415) 521-3828

Sam Brown Inc.
Audra Friis
(917) 519-9577

(In thousands except for share amounts and par value)
  December 31, December 31,
   2020   2019 
Current assets    
Cash and cash equivalents $59,444  $46,732 
Marketable securities  156,969   227,311 
Accounts receivable from collaboration  1,230   3,374 
Prepaid expenses and other current assets  6,850   5,363 
Total current assets  224,493   282,780 
Property and equipment, net  1,600   1,830 
Operating lease right-of-use (ROU) assets  9,131   11,975 
Other assets  6,392   1,684 
Indefinite-lived intangible asset  29,000   29,000 
Goodwill  12,638   12,638 
Total assets $ 283,254  $ 339,907 
Current liabilities    
Accounts payable $4,598  $1,731 
Accrued clinical expenses  4,444   4,826 
Other accrued expenses  11,987   8,286 
Deferred revenue - short-term     6,411 
Operating lease liabilities - short-term  3,404   3,186 
Total current liabilities  24,433   24,440 
Deferred tax liabilities  2,531   2,531 
Deferred revenue - long-term  8,987   30,637 
Operating lease liabilities - long-term  6,725   9,082 
Total liabilities  42,676   66,690 
Commitments and contingencies    
Stockholders' equity    
Preferred stock, $0.001 par value; 5,000,000 shares authorized; no shares issued or outstanding      
Common stock, $0.001 par value; 100,000,000 shares authorized as of December 31, 2020 and 2019; 34,026,680 and 32,558,307 shares issued and outstanding as of December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively  34   32 
Additional paid-in capital  742,387   712,807 
Accumulated other comprehensive loss  (270)  (201)
Accumulated deficit  (501,573)  (439,421)
Total stockholders' equity  240,578   273,217 
Total liabilities and stockholders' equity $ 283,254  $ 339,907 

(In thousands except for share and per share amounts)
  Year Ended December 31,
   2020   2019   2018 
Collaboration revenue $79,105  $15,963  $14,804 
Operating expenses:      
Research and development  106,823   85,757   72,741 
General and administrative  37,058   32,919   34,798 
Total operating expenses  143,881   118,676   107,539 
Loss from operations  (64,776)  (102,713)  (92,735)
Other income       
Interest and other income, net  2,624   4,305   3,083 
Total other income  2,624   4,305   3,083 
Loss before income taxes  (62,152)  (98,408)  (89,652)
Income tax benefit     774   (1,099)
Net loss $ (62,152) $ (97,634) $ (90,751)
Other comprehensive (loss) income      
Unrealized (loss) gain on marketable securities, net of tax  (69)  146   45 
Comprehensive loss $ (62,221) $ (97,488) $ (90,706)
Net loss per share, basic and diluted $(1.75) $(3.72) $(3.98)
Weighted average common shares outstanding, basic and diluted  35,427,120   26,258,790   22,801,644