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Eiger BioPharmaceuticals: Promising COVID-19 Effort With Peginterferon Lambda Just Entering Clinical Trials

Leonard Yaffe profile picture
Leonard Yaffe


  • Eiger BioPharmaceuticals has two main drug development efforts, lonafarnib for Progeria and Hepatitis D and Peginterferon lambda for Hepatitis D.
  • Interferons have been explored as mediators of rapid, innate antiviral protection. In vitro, interferon lambda has shown potency against several coronaviruses.
  • Eiger has just begun to investigate the use of Peginterferon Lambda in COVID-19, with the first patients having been dosed.
  • Eiger has a market capitalization of $240 million. In Q1, the company recorded a loss of $15.2 million, and it exited with $77.6 million in cash and short term investments.
  • Several published studies suggest that SARS-CoV-2 induces very weak expression of interferons in infected cells, which hampers the early innate immune response. Therefore, exogenous interferon may prove beneficial for treatment.

Eiger BioPharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:EIGR) is developing lonafarnib, an oral prenylation inhibitor, to treat Hepatitis D and Progeria. Hepatitis D is typically a superinfection on top of Hepatitis B, leading to a more severe form of the disease. It affects 15-20 million people worldwide, and there is no current therapy approved. In the US, lornafarnib has been granted orphan drug designation for this indication, and it has fast track status in combination with ritonavir. It is in Phase 3 clinical study. Lonafarnib is also being investigated to treat progeria,a very rare autosomal dominant, fatal, premature aging syndrome caused by a gene mutation. An NDA was submitted to the FDA in March, and the drug has been granted breakthrough Therapy Designation and Rare Pediatric Disease Designation.

Eiger is also pursuing the use of Peginterferon lambda, both as montherapy and as combination therapy with lonafarnib, to treat Hepatitis D. A Phase 2 monotherapy study has been completed, and end of treatment Phase 2 data on a combination study is slated for the EASL 2020 meeting in August.

Recently, Eiger began pursuing the use of Peginterferon lambda to treat COVID-19. A trial is underway in which 120 patients will be randomized 1:1 to a single subcutaneous dose of Lambda or saline placebo in order to evaluate viral shedding and symptom and hospitalization reduction in patients with mild COVID-19 for a 28 day period. It is important to recognize that most other therapies that seem promising are directed at moderately to critically ill hospitalized patients. The possibility of targeting less symptomatic patients is more valuable from a healthcare standpoint, and it addresses a much larger population. There have been several publications and studies that support the use of interferon in treating coronavirus. In a recent Journal of Experimental Medicine, Prokunia-Olsson et al. wrote that interferon administration can be used for prophylaxis or early

This article was written by

Leonard Yaffe profile picture
I am an MD by background who runs a healthcare hedge fund. I worked as a sell-side medical analyst for 20 years, covering pharmaceuticals, medical devices, PBMs and drug distributors.

Analyst’s Disclosure: I am/we are long EIGR. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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Comments (6)

What are your thoughts now that the first trial yielded no impact on Covid. Any insight on how the next 5 trials may have different targets?
NDHT profile picture
What's going on today? Up by more than 24%.
Leonard Yaffe profile picture
I am noticing that the "coronavirus" stocks are acting well, as is all of biopharma and healthcare. One thing lost in this tragic pandemic is that as the US economy contracts, healthcare becomes a bigger percentage of GDP. Healthcare spending had accounted for 18% of GDP, and I forecast it to grow to 25% by 2030...but this may prove very conservative, as I now believe it could approach 30% in 10 years. This necessitates fund flow shifts away from industries more likely to suffer in the "new normal".
HuntingElephants profile picture
People are starting to wake up to the potential here. Thanks for the article and insight.
Hi Yaffe, what’s the cash runway?
Thanks for the article.. longtime holder here. I think this article moved the stock nicely on a good day!
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