Entering text into the input field will update the search result below

Atara plunges 56% as Stifel downgrades after early data for multiple sclerosis drug

Red arrow And dollar finance decline graph- Stock image

Baris-Ozer/iStock via Getty Images

Atara Biotherapeutics (NASDAQ:ATRA) shed ~56% to record its biggest intraday loss after Stifel downgraded the Clinical-stage biotech on Wednesday in reaction to its Phase 2 interim data for ATA188, a CAR T immunotherapy for

Recommended For You

Comments (15)

Have a tip? Submit confidentially to our News team. Found a factual error? Report here.

Arkeh Capital profile picture
Citi apparently downgraded ATRA to Sell with a price target of $3. I believe that leadership changes are urgent and long overdue at ATRA. The current team has lost the trust of investors and employees. The company needs a strategic investor or an buyer and the management of the day is likely not willing to admit its complete failure thereby losing time and money.
It is already clear that ATA188 restores myelin and improves EDSS in MS patients. It is the only drug that goes after the cause of MS: EBV. It is highly likely this drug will be approved. The many other drugs currently approved for MS do not repair myelin or improve EDSS. Rather, they reduce the immune system and thereby slow progression of the disease. For that, these drugs command more than $100,000 per patient per year. Tecfidera is an example. This drug produced more than $4 billion per year, and it doesn't even remove the cause of the disease.

Wake up, people. When this drug is approved, it will be a $10 billion per year drug. Atara is currently worth $300 million.

Regarding the announcement that they don't feel the need to increase the sample size, I hardly see that as cause for concern. We already know the drug works. They will do a large phase 3 next year. They are already planning it.
NDHT profile picture
@BimMu9B3 Well said.

Atara has cited two recent papers from two renowned medical journals that EBV is the main culprit for MS. Atara's ATA188, an allogeneic T cell therapy, eliminates MS-causing cells that express EBV antigens.

1) Bjorneviketal.(Science,2022)
•Identified EBV as the required trigger for MS
•Risk of MS increased 32-fold after infection with Epstein-Barr virus but was unchanged after infection with other viruses
•Serum levels of neurofilament light chain, a biomarker of neuroaxonal degeneration, increased only after EBV seroconversion

2) Lanzet al. (Nature, 2022)
•Validates molecular mimicry as one of the leading mechanisms of EBV-mediated MS
•Demonstrates a mechanistic basis for how EBV infection can trigger immune cells to attack self-tissue in the CNS.

In addition, this is just a proof of concept Phase 2 trial with a target enrollment of 80 patients. Any learning Atara can glean now will help them design better pivotal Phase 3 trials later.

Today's market reaction treated this interim news as a do-or-die event for pivotal Phase 3 trials. It's quite far from that.
@NDHT I don't think people understand how ground-breaking ATA188 is. Every drug on the market is not getting at the cause of the disease, and they are raking in tens of billions every year. Certainly things can go wrong on the way to approval, but it seems like a blockbuster drug.
Sage Advisors profile picture
@BimMu9B3 The published literature is compelling. Could it be that these patients were too far in the course of their disease? I also think there is a lot of variability in progression rates between patients with MS which means you need a large n. This study is not powered for stat significance. I agree with NDHT's comment that phase 2 in an indication like this with an unproven mechanism serves to inform design of a ph 3. This is exploratory more than a it works/it failed readout IMHO.
shake shake money tree profile picture
Anyone listened to the conference call? So they have 15 ppl that have been treated for 12 months. They are doing 1:1, so there are about 7 in the treatment group. I am not a statistician but i would say, there is no way to derive any statistical significant number from such a small sample. The interim analysis was designed so incredibly dumb…
Arkeh Capital profile picture
@shake shake money tree
Agreed. This suggests to me there is no message on the efficacy of the drug per se. Even people in the placebo group want to believe into the efficacy of what they got at the 6 months stage. Same with those who got ATA188. But even some of those 7-8 who got no placebo will have to realize that things have not really improved but only stabilized. There is no statistical base for conclusions. They raised false expectations. So what are their options now? In my view they will have to put the company up for sale as soon as the data base gets more reliable and hopefully better, unless someone takes the opportunity to build a stake and drive up the share price so that they can refinance a cash negative business. The management in any case does a very terrible job and it is a joke if the have access to lower and lower share options rewarding them for their mistakes.
shake shake money tree profile picture
@Arkeh Capital Your explanation makes sense! Thank you. I placed too much trust on the science/nature articles.
shake shake money tree profile picture
@Arkeh Capital Thinking about it more about your hypothesis. In the longer term(12 months), there might be some efficacy since the sample size was not increased. If there were absolutely no efficacy, the futility would be kicked in. They did not increase the sample size, that seems a relatively good indicator.

It seems indicating that, at 6 months, false positive is high. So nothing is conclusive at 6 months.
The crash is not warranted. The FDA has proven that they are OK approving drugs that are basically no better than placebo like Sarepta's drug for DMD, which sells millions. PTC Bio and Sarepta's DMD drugs sell millions for mostly being safe, even if they don't have much effect, because they address a desperate patient population. The question is the level of ground support MS patients will create for ATRA's drug candidate.
And Friday, everything will be in place because institutions will buy all the shares of the retails investors… classic.
Arkeh Capital profile picture
The institutions will we hedge funds. Short interest in ATRA was about 10% of shares outstanding. This explains why the shares could come that much under pressure in after-market-trading. Neither indexed money nor long-only investors would have tried to sell at whatever price. But people with short-positions on had an interest to bring down the share price as much as possible in a market as illiquid as possible. I think the SEC should review trading. This said, I also believe ATRA is a very poorly managed company.

About ATRA

SymbolLast Price% Chg
Market Cap
Yield (TTM)
Rev Growth (YoY)
Short Interest
Prev. Close
Compare to Peers

Related Stocks

SymbolLast Price% Chg
Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc.
Curis, Inc.
Leap Therapeutics, Inc.
Cidara Therapeutics, Inc.
Spero Therapeutics, Inc.
To ensure this doesn’t happen in the future, please enable Javascript and cookies in your browser.
Is this happening to you frequently? Please report it on our feedback forum.
If you have an ad-blocker enabled you may be blocked from proceeding. Please disable your ad-blocker and refresh.