Aslan's latest cancer focus also flops, leaving just two major programs for the troubled biotech
Aslan $ASLN has stumbled back into the failure pit.
When their lead drug failed to treat gastric cancer, Aslan Pharmaceuticals announced they were going to focus on another type: biliary tract cancer (BTC). When the gastric failure forced them to cut 30% of their staff, they again emphasized the new target as one of three remaining programs.
But Aslan’s BTC trial has now failed on both primary endpoints. The results showed an improved response rate for Aslan’s varlitinib over the control arm, but not significantly. The drug arm had a progression-free survival rate of 2.83 months compared to 2.79 in the control arm — basically a one-day difference.
The failure leaves Aslan with two major programs left — one for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and one for atopic dermatitis (AD) — and a precarious financial situation. In their Q3, Aslan revealed they were burning through $7 million per quarter and had just $8 million left in cash and cash equivalents.
With Monday’s news, their stock tumbled 56%, from $2.08 per share to $0.91. Market cap fell to $21 million.
Last month the Singapore-based company secured a $3 million loan from the board and major investors intended, CEO Carl Firth said at the time, to buoy the company in advance of these data and results coming early next year on AD. Aslan did not say explicitly they are now abandoning the BTC program but they made no reference to future plans, and today Firth said in a statement:
“I would like to extend our thanks to the patients, trial investigators and site personnel who participated in the study and to the ASLAN team for their commitment to the development of varlitinib. ASLAN remains focused on the promising molecules in its portfolio, including the ongoing study in atopic dermatitis of ASLAN004, our IL-13 receptor antibody which blocks signalling through IL-4 and IL-13.”
Much is hanging on the 2020 atopic dermatitis results. Aslan began dosing for the second part of a Phase I study on its antibody last month, with plans for a follow-up study on the most efficacious dose.
Aslan has completed the first part of a Phase II study for their drug for AML, a notoriously evasive drug target, and said some patients experienced up to 98% reduction in peripheral blood blast cells. But since reporting that in their Q2, the company has said little about the program.