Mast Therapeutics (MSTX) Updates on Business Strategy; Will Wind Down Vepoloxamer Programs
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Mast Therapeutics, Inc. (NYSE: MSTX) provided an update related to its business strategy and the clinical development of its product candidates.
- The Company's cash, cash equivalents, and investment securities were $30.3 million at August 31, 2016.
- The Company will focus on clinical development of AIR001 (sodium nitrite solution for intermittent inhalation) for the treatment of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). Specifically, during 2016 and 2017, the Company will continue to support three ongoing investigator-sponsored Phase 2 clinical studies of AIR001 being conducted at prestigious research institutions.
- The Company has begun to wind down its vepoloxamer programs in sickle cell disease and heart failure and expects those activities will be completed in the fourth quarter of 2016.
- While furthering the development of AIR001 through the ongoing Phase 2 clinical studies, the Company is planning to initiate a process to evaluate partnership opportunities for its assets.
- As a result of cost savings anticipated by the termination of its vepoloxamer clinical programs and related operations and the prioritization of its AIR001 program, the Company estimates that its operating expenses for 2017 will be in the range of $9 to $10 million, excluding share-based compensation expense. This anticipated level of spend reflects an approximate 70% reduction from estimated operating expenses for 2016 of approximately $32 to $34 million, excluding share-based compensation expense.
- The Company will make the $10 million prepayment on its debt facility triggered by the recently announced results of its Phase 3 study of vepoloxamer in early October 2016. After that prepayment, the principal amount of the Company's debt will be approximately $3.5 million, which is scheduled to be repaid in equal monthly installments of principal and interest through January 1, 2019.
"Following a critical review of our pipeline and opportunities we have determined that a focus on AIR001 will provide for a strong foundation from which we will seek to return value to our stockholders," stated Brian M. Culley, the Company's Chief Executive Officer. "However, these decisions likely will have a significant impact on our talented team members and I want to personally thank those who may be affected for their hard work, dedication and contributions to the vepoloxamer program."
AIR001 Program Update The Company will prioritize its AIR001 program with continued support for three separate, ongoing, investigator-sponsored Phase 2 clinical studies of AIR001. Earlier this year, the Company reported positive top-line results from a blinded and randomized Phase 2a clinical study of AIR001 in HFpEF patients and detailed results were published on September 16, 2016 in Circulation Research, Volume 119, Issue 7 (available here).
- The Company will continue to support an ongoing, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover Phase 2 study of AIR001 in patients with HFpEF being conducted by the Heart Failure Clinical Research Network (HFN) with support from a grant awarded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02742129) Patient enrollment in this study is expected to complete before the end of 2017. The majority of expenses for this 100-patient study are being funded by the HFN.
- The Company will continue to support an ongoing, investigator-sponsored Phase 2 clinical study of AIR001 in patients with pulmonary hypertension associated with HFpEF. (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01431313) The Company previously reported positive interim results from the study, which results were presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in May 2016 (poster available here). Additional interim results from this Phase 2 study have been accepted for publication and are expected to be available in the coming weeks.
- The Company will continue to support an ongoing, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 2 study of AIR001 in patients with HFpEF undergoing cardiac rehabilitation for exercise training to evaluate whether blinded treatment with AIR001 improves exercise capacity and hemodynamic reserve compared to placebo. (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02713126)
Vepoloxamer Program Update Concurrent with the wind-down of its vepoloxamer programs, which includes the termination and closure of all active clinical study sites in the EPIC extension study known as EPIC-E and the clinical pharmacokinetics study in individuals with varying degrees of renal insufficiency, the Company is in the process of analyzing additional data from the Phase 3 clinical study of vepoloxamer in sickle cell disease known as EPIC and interim data from a Phase 2 study of vepoloxamer in chronic heart failure and will assess opportunities to create value from this asset.
The Company recently announced that it received a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute Of Neurological Disorders And Stroke of the National Institutes of Health to support investigation of vepoloxamer in combination with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) in experimental models of embolic stroke and the Company currently intends that work will continue as planned. The Company is collaborating with leading stroke researchers at the Neuroscience Institute at Henry Ford Health System for the conduct of this preclinical study. In addition, the Company expects that preclinical work being conducted by the U.S. military under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to evaluate vepoloxamer's potential as a resuscitation fluid following major trauma will continue.
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