Mast cuts back after Phase 3 miss
- San Diego-based Mast Therapeutics is shutting down its development program of an experimental drug for treatment of sickle cell disease and heart failure, after a Phase 3 study missed its primary goal earlier this month.
- The drug, known as vepoloxamer, failed to beat a placebo in reducing the length of vaso-occlusive crisis. In light ot the setback, Mast anticipates the sickle cell disease and heart failure programs will be fully wound down by the fourth quarter.
- Ending further development of vepoloxamer will cut operating expenses by around 70%. Even so, Mast is looking for a partner to support three Phase 2 trials studying its other drug AIR001, an inhaled formulation of sodium nitrate for treatment of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.
Mast will continue some work on vepoloxamer, having received a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support development in embolic stroke. Still, the termination of further work in sickle cell disease and heart failure will likely lead to cutbacks in staff.
"Following a critical review of our pipeline and opportunities we have determined that a focus on AIR001 will provide for a strong foundation from which we will seek to return value to our stockholders," said Mast CEO Brian Culley. "However, these decisions likely will have a significant impact on our talented team members."
With the savings from the program cuts, Mast anticipates its operating expenses for next year will drop to between $9 and $10 million, compared to an estimated spend of $32 to $34 million this year.
The company will now focus on clinical development of its remaining clinical stage pipeline drug, AIR001. Three Phase 2 studies are currently ongoing, and Mast plans to search for partnership options even as it continues development of those programs.
Mast had $30.3 million in cash and equivalents as of August 31.
- Mast Therapeutics Statement
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