Little Arsanis steers its only clinical-stage therapy to the scrap heap after a PhII implosion

One of the biotechs that barely managed to complete its IPO late last year ended up offering fresh proof about just how dangerous it can be to back a drug developer.

Rene Russo

Arsanis $ASNS, a Vienna-based company co-founded by antibody expert Tillman Gerngross, reported today that it is scrapping its only clinical development program after the Phase II program for its S. aureus pneumonia therapy failed to survive an interim analysis.

The independent monitors said it would be futile to continue. Investors quickly fled, with the stock crumbling fast, plunging 72%.

Arsanis started the day with a market cap of $260 million after raising $40 million in their IPO last fall, which only got off the ground after a steep discount on the stock price.

CEO Rene Russo isn’t throwing in the towel, preferring to turn to the other preclinical programs they have. Those drugs include “ASN500 for the prevention of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection, which contributes to 240,000 hospitalizations per year in the U.S. Pre-clinical data for ASN500 has demonstrated high potency with potential to offer benefits over existing preventive therapies in terms of dosing strategy, manufacturing and route of administration, to better serve both new and existing target patient populations. We expect to advance ASN500 into Phase 1 clinical trials in 2019.”

Their failed program combined two antibodies — ASN-1 and ASN-2 — that they believed together neutralize the six cytotoxins critical to S. aureus pneumonia pathogenesis.

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