Mi­cro­cap Cona­tus teams up with phar­ma gi­ant No­var­tis on NASH drug, shares rock­et up

Steven J. Men­to, Cona­tus

The mi­cro­cap biotech Cona­tus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $CNAT just struck a li­cens­ing deal with No­var­tis for its lead drug that’s worth about as much as its mar­ket cap at to­day’s close — and that’s just the cash por­tion of the agree­ment. Its share price rock­et­ed up, climb­ing 146% in ear­ly-morn­ing trad­ing Tues­day.

San Diego-based Cona­tus is get­ting $50 mil­lion up­front from phar­ma gi­ant No­var­tis, which gets an op­tion on em­ri­c­as­an 9 months af­ter the drug hit a slate of bio­mark­er end­points in a small mid-stage study for fat­ty liv­er dis­ease and NASH. No­var­tis is pay­ing half of the Phase IIb costs and will hand over an­oth­er $7 mil­lion if it ex­er­cis­es its op­tion in the deal.

No­var­tis will al­so hand over an un­spec­i­fied batch of mile­stones and has re­tained the right to co-com­mer­cial­ize the drug in the US. No­var­tis is re­spon­si­ble for late-stage test­ing.

The No­var­tis deal sub­stan­tial­ly changes the for­tunes of this small biotech. Cona­tus end­ed the day with a mar­ket cap of $51 mil­lion. Its CEO Steven J. Men­to had this to say:

This col­lab­o­ra­tion val­i­dates the Cona­tus em­pha­sis on the ini­tial de­vel­op­ment of em­ri­c­as­an as a sin­gle agent treat­ment for NASH cir­rho­sis in both com­pen­sat­ed and de­com­pen­sat­ed pa­tients, and sets the stage for si­mul­ta­ne­ous de­vel­op­ment of oral com­bi­na­tion ther­a­pies for the treat­ment of NASH fi­bro­sis in­clud­ing em­ri­c­as­an and one of the No­var­tis in­ter­nal FXR (Far­ne­soid X re­cep­tor) ag­o­nists in clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. Their strong com­mit­ment to and ex­per­tise in liv­er dis­ease, and proven record of suc­cess in drug de­vel­op­ment pro­vide our best op­por­tu­ni­ty to de­liv­er these po­ten­tial­ly ground­break­ing new ther­a­pies to chron­ic liv­er dis­ease pa­tients with high un­met med­ical need.

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing the val­ue of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine

By Natasha Cowan, Content Marketing Manager at Blue Latitude Health.
Many stakeholders are confused by novel precision medicines, including patients and healthcare professionals. So, how can industry help them to navigate this complexity?

Precision medicine represents a new paradigm in healthcare. It embodies the shift from treating many patients with the same therapy, to having the tools to identify the best treatment for every patient.

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