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Your Daily Pharma Scoop: Conatus Setback, Applied DNA Signs Agreement, Evolus Announces Results From Late-Stage Study

Apr. 06, 2018 11:18 AM ETHistogen Inc. (HSTO)APDN, EOLS, AGN, CLLS, HALO, ACIU, VTGN, BIB, ABBV, ICPT, ARDM4 Comments


  • Conatus’ POLT-HCV-SVR study fails.
  • Applied DNA Sciences signed a License and Collaboration Agreement and related Supply Agreement.
  • Evolus announces results from EVB-003.

Analysis focus: Conatus

Conatus (NASDAQ:CNAT) shares tumbled after the company announced top-line results from a phase 2b POLT-HCV-SVR clinical study. The phase 2b study was evaluating CNAT’s lead product candidate emricasan, a first-in-class pan-caspase protease inhibitor designed to reduce the activity of human caspases in liver transplant patients with fibrosis or cirrhosis. It is one of the four studies CNAT is currently conducting with its lead product candidates. The most anticipated data will be from the ENCORE-LF study (due in the second half of 2019).

We covered CNAT as part of our NASH series back in February. As we had noted back then, what makes emricasan exciting is the fact that it is targeting a spectrum of the NAFLD/NASH disease where the space is not yet crowded. A majority of NASH players are focusing on NASH fibrosis. With emricasan, Conatus is targeting a full range of fibrosis and cirrhosis, including decompensated cirrhosis. Currently, none of the NASH players are targeting NASH with decompensated cirrhosis. This makes the results from the ENCORE-LF trial very important.

The POLT-HCV-SVR study did not meet the primary endpoint in the heterogeneous overall trial population, the emricasan treatment effect in the subgroup of patients where the histology endpoint is most relevant. Patients with advanced fibrosis and early cirrhosis supports further evaluation. While this is a setback for CNAT, it must be noted that this study has a separate patient population vs. the other three Phase 2b clinical trials in the company’s collaboration with Novartis (NVS), which are in non-viral indications in patient populations with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) fibrosis or cirrhosis. As we also noted, the ENCORE-LF study is the most important for CNAT.

We believe that the sell-off creates a good opportunity to add some CNAT shares, which had a good run in March before the

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