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Tocagen's Upswing, And Other News: The Good, Bad And Ugly Of Biopharma

Mar. 10, 2020 5:36 AM ETForte Biosciences, Inc. (FBRX)ARDX, MIST2 Comments


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Tocagen Continues Merger-Fueled Upswing

Tocagen (TOCA) stock shot up as the company follows through its previous announcement about a merger with Forte Biosciences, an obscure pharmaceuticals firm with FB-401 as its lead candidate. FB-401 is a topical drug designed to treat inflammatory skin conditions. The drug is claimed to have shown promise during its Phase 1/2 study. The results from the study are expected to be published during mid 2020. It is also expected that a Phase 2 trial for evaluating the impact of this drug candidate on treating atopic dermatitis will be launched towards the middle of this year. The top line data will likely be out during the middle of the next year.

Tocagen has a tumultuous history behind it. The stock suffered massive loss when its trials assessing the effectiveness of Toca FC and Toca 511 failed to meet the mark. The trial failed to achieve the primary endpoint of overall survival compared to standard-of-care treatment (median of 11.1 months vs. 12.2 months; hazard ratio: 1.06; p=0.6154). The secondary endpoints of the trial also failed to show any significant differences between the treatment arms. The aftermath of trial failure led to the company sacking nearly two thirds of its employees.

The merger is expected to be finalized in the second quarter of the year. Tocagen CEO Marty Duvall said, “The strength and dedication of the Forte leadership team, combined with their highly differentiated technology platform and enthusiastic support from leading clinicians, provides a compelling foundation for future success for all stakeholders, and they have our full support."

Forte Biosciences is currently privately held and post-merger, the combined entity will be listed on Nasdaq Capital Market under a new ticker. Toca shareholders will gain a quarter of the resulting company, which will work under the leadership of Forte’s current

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