Drug Development, Setbacks

Strike two: Vical says another one of its vaccines has crashed and burned in PhII

Another development program has run up onto the rocks at Vical $VICL.

Five months after the San Diego-based biotech was forced to restructure in the aftermath of a critical Phase II failure, one of the two clinical programs it turned to in the wake of that setback has also been scrapped. And the fresh fail drove its shares down 29% before the open.

Vijay Samant, CEO Vical

Vijay Samant

Researchers say that their bivalent vaccine candidate for herpes simplex virus type 2 failed to beat a placebo on the recurrence of lesions among 261 patients recruited for the study. And like the CMV vaccine ASP0113, the biotech is opting to wash its hands of the whole effort now.

The company is now riding on the antifungal VL‑2397, which Vical licensed from Astellas. CEO Vijay Samant says this antifungal “has the potential to be the first in a new class of antifungal drugs,” but he has dwindling credibility on his ability to pick winners for the clinic.

The company’s research team is also focused on a preclinical treatment for chronic HBV infection.

Back in late January Vical laid off 40 staffers as they circled the wagons around the clinical work. Their market cap has dwindled down to $35 million, representing fading hopes of success.

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