Safety, pharmacodynamics, and antiviral activity of selgantolimod in viremic patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection

Harry L. Janssen*, Young Suk Lim, Hyung Joon Kim, Leonard Sowah, Cheng Hao Tseng, Carla S. Coffin, Magdy Elkhashab, Sang Hoon Ahn, Anh Hoa Nguyen, Diana Chen, Jeffrey J. Wallin, Simon P. Fletcher, Circe McDonald, Jenny C. Yang, Anuj Gaggar, Diana M. Brainard, Scott Fung, Yoon Jun Kim, Jia Horng Kao, Wan Long ChuangAnna E. Brooks, P. Rod Dunbar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background & Aims: 

Novel finite therapies for chronic hepatitis B (CHB) are needed, since lifelong treatment is usually required with current available oral antivirals. This phase II study (NCT03615066) evaluated the safety, pharmacodynamics, and antiviral activity of selgantolimod (a Toll-like receptor 8 agonist [TLR8]) with tenofovir alafenamide (TAF). 


Viremic patients with CHB not receiving treatment were stratified by HBeAg status and randomized 2:2:1 to TAF 25 mg/day with selgantolimod 3 mg orally once weekly (QW), selgantolimod 1.5 mg QW, or placebo. Combination therapy continued until week (W)24, followed by TAF monotherapy until W48; patients then discontinued TAF and were followed until W96 (treatment-free follow-up [TFFU] period). The primary efficacy endpoint was the proportion with ≥1 log10 IU/ml HBsAg decline at W24. 


Sixty-seven patients received study drug; 27 were followed during TFFU. Nausea, headache, vomiting, fatigue, and dizziness were the most common adverse events. Most adverse events were grade 1. Alanine aminotransferase flares were not observed up to W48. Four patients experienced alanine aminotransferase and hepatitis flares during TFFU; all had HBV DNA increases. Selgantolimod increased serum cytokines and chemokines and redistributed several circulating immune cell subsets. No patients achieved the primary efficacy endpoint. Mean HBsAg changes were −0.12, −0.16, and −0.12 log10 IU/ml in the selgantolimod 3 mg, selgantolimod 1.5 mg, and placebo groups, respectively, at W48; HBV DNA declined in all groups by ≥2 log10 IU/ml as early as W2, with all groups rebounding to baseline during TFFU. No HBsAg or HBeAg loss or seroconversion was observed throughout TFFU. 


Selgantolimod up to 3 mg was safe and well tolerated. Pharmacodynamics and antiviral activity in viremic patients support continued study of selgantolimod in combination CHB therapies. 

Impact and implications: 

Novel therapeutics for chronic HBV infection are needed to achieve a functional cure. In this study, we confirmed the safety and tolerability of selgantolimod (formerly GS-9688, a TLR8) when administered with tenofovir alafenamide over 24 weeks in viremic patients with chronic HBV infection. Overall, declines in HBsAg levels with selgantolimod treatment were modest; subgroup analysis indicated that patients with alanine aminotransferase levels greater than the upper limit of normal had significantly greater declines compared to those with normal alanine aminotransferase levels (–0.20 vs. –0.03 log10 IU/ml; p <0.001). These findings suggest a potential differential response to selgantolimod based on patients’ baseline HBV-specific immune response, which should be considered in future investigations characterizing the underlying mechanisms of selgantolimod treatment and in HBV cure studies using similar immunomodulatory pathways. 

Clinical trial number: 

NCT03615066 be found at

Original languageEnglish
Article number100975
JournalJHEP Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024

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© 2023 The Authors


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