Struggling Ohr shutters lab after halting enrollment for PhIII wet AMD study

Ohr CEO Jason Slakter

A few days ago the struggling microcap biotech Ohr Pharmaceutical $OHRP told investors it would “pause” enrollment in their Phase III study of squalimine for neovascular wet AMD. Now the biotech has filed an 8-K with the SEC saying that it’s shutting down a small lab working on a preclinical effort.

The word from the New York-based company:

On February 21, 2017, Ohr Pharmaceutical, Inc. (the ‘Company”) took actions to suspend activities at its lab facility in San Diego, California where the preclinical research regarding the sustained release platform technology had been conducted. The suspension of preclinical activities at the lab facility will result in a reduction in workforce of approximately 8 positions at the lab facility, which reduction will occur immediately.

Ohr shares, which this morning are treading in penny stock waters, were hammered in 2015 when their lead drug failed a Phase II study, unable to beat water in reducing the need for Lucentis injections. The company, though, mined data suggesting that if you just carved out neovascularization patients, you could see a benefit over placebo. And that’s what they took into Phase III.

The biotech said on February 14 that it had about $13.5 million in cash and equivalents at the end of the year after burning through $7 million in the fourth quarter.

At the time, Ohr CEO Jason Slakter commented on the halt to enrolling new patients after recruiting 200 for its Phase III, saying:

This approach is intended to provide prospective efficacy data before year end 2017 to enable us to potentially confirm the visual acuity benefits observed in the patient population we identified as the most likely to benefit from Squalamine combination therapy. Given the recent study readouts from other combination therapy agents and the reaction to these results, we feel that a change in our clinical development program is warranted.

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