Healthcare Business

Why ProNAi Could Be the Biggest Loser at ASCO

The annual meeting for American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is generally one of the biggest weeks of the year for the health care sector. However, with all the movement in the sector, there are inevitably winners and losers. Perhaps the biggest loser of the meeting thus far is ProNAi Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: DNAI).

The company announced interim results from the Wolverine Phase 2 trial of PNT2258 for the treatment of relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Results from this mid-stage trial were disappointing and modest efficacy was seen, at best.

Unfortunately, ProNAi is deciding to go in a different direction and is suspending its development of PNT2258 and focus its resources elsewhere.

Management noted that it continues to maintain a strong balance sheet and in the future will focus its resources and activities on advancing its newly licensed Cdc7 inhibitor, PNT141. At the same time, the company is looking into securing additional assets to build a broad and diverse pipeline of oncology drugs under its development.

Dr. Nick Glover, president and CEO of ProNAi, commented:

Although we observed modest efficacy from PNT2258 in this interim analysis of Wolverine, we do not view these results as robust enough to justify continued development of the drug in DLBCL.  We have decided to suspend development of PNT2258 pending further review of these data in order to determine next steps for both this asset and the DNAi platform.

Dr. Barbara Klencke, chief development officer of ProNAi, added:

We designed and conducted a robust, well-executed set of experiments, both clinical and preclinical, in order to further our understanding of the PNT2258 asset and the underlying DNAi technology. Unfortunately, advanced DLBCL and Richter’s Transformation are challenging diseases to treat, and PNT2258 did not markedly improve outcomes in these indications. On the basis of these interim assessments, we have decided to close the Wolverine and Brighton studies to further enrollment of new subjects. On behalf of ProNAi, we would like to thank the patients and their families, investigators and staff involved in these studies for their participation and support.

Shares of ProNAi closed Friday at $6.38, with a consensus analyst price target of $29.50 and a 52-week trading range of $4.48 to $33.75. Following the release of the data, the stock was down 59% at $2.61 just after the open on Monday.