On the ropes, Opexa shares blasted by PhIIb multiple sclerosis trial flop

Opexa CEO Neil K. Warma

Opexa CEO Neil K. Warma

Opexa Therapeutics $OPXA today becomes the latest in a long lineup of public biotech companies to feel the wrath of disappointed investors in the wake of a clinical trial failure. The biotech’s shares cratered, plunging 69% in pre-market trading after its lead therapy flunked a Phase IIb for multiple sclerosis.

The news wiped out the lion’s share of The Woodlands, TX-based biotech’s minuscule $24 million in market cap.

Investigators say that Tcelna (imilecleucel-T) did not meet its primary endpoint of reduction in brain volume change (atrophy) in patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. It also failed the secondary endpoint of reduction of the rate of sustained disease progression.

Merck KGaA had stepped up with a small $5 million upfront to partner on this program back in 2013. And Opexa had to lay off 10 staffers back in March as it sought to conserve its dwindling cash reserves as the study was being wrapped up. The biotech’s only other asset is still in preclinical development, according to its web site.

That’s not the profile of a company that spurs much confidence these days.

“We are disappointed that Tcelna did not meet the predefined endpoints in the Abili-T trial,” said Opexa CEO Neil K. Warma in a statement. “We will evaluate the full data set over the coming weeks and review cash preservation options while we consider the best path forward for the company.”

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