Unity finds itself with a finite amount of cash as new data provide a ray of hope for investors
It has not been an easy road for the anti-aging startup Unity Biotechnology. From staff cuts to a lead program loss, the company has run into several obstacles on its journey, but their latest news points to both the perils and potential ahead.
In the biotech’s Q2 results on Friday, the company revealed it has only enough cash to fund its operations through the first quarter of next year, with posted results showing that Unity had $64.5 million in cash and market securities at the end of the quarter. This is compared to the $79.2 million the biotech had at the end of March. The company also had an operating loss of $12.3 million for the quarter as well.
Endpoints News reached out to Unity about the situation but has not received a response by press time and will update accordingly.
The company price $UBX dropped into the penny stock range earlier this year and has been gyrating in and out since. However, data released this morning are bringing better news for investors, pushing the stock price up by more than 100% Friday morning.
And that may help pave the way to bringing in more cash, if they can follow the road to a follow-on.
The company posted 12- and 18-week data from its Phase II BEHOLD study of UBX1325, a senolytic Bcl-xL inhibitor, in patients with diabetic macular edema (DME). UBX1325 was one of the major focuses of the company after its lead candidate flopped in 2020.
At 18 weeks, after a single injection of UBX1325, the change in patients’ best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) was an increase of 6.1 ETDRS letters, representing an improvement of +5.0 ETDRS letters compared to sham-treated subjects and a value of P= 0.0368. The data also showed that patients treated with UBX1325 maintained a central subfield thickness (CST) compared to sham-treated patients who demonstrated progressive worsening of CST.
Patients treated with a single injection of UBX1325 for 12 weeks had a mean improvement in BCVA of +4.7 ETDRS letters from baseline compared to +1.3 ETDRS letters in sham-treated patients, leading to a value of p=0.1148.
“The vision gains observed are greater than what has been previously reported with the standard of care in similar patient populations, and the durability of effect suggests that UBX1325 could address the large unmet need for longer-lasting, disease-modifying treatments for patients with DME. These data represent an important and exciting step in validating the senolytic therapeutic concept that is core to UNITY’s platform,” said Unity CEO Anirvan Ghosh.
The company is bullish on the findings and is forging ahead with more studies for UBX1325 for now.
This positive news is a welcome reprieve after several recent setbacks for Unity.
In 2020, after the company saw massive investments from names such as Jeff Bezos, Peter Thiel and Bob Nelsen, its Phase II study testing whether their lead drug UBX0101 could alleviate pain in people with osteoarthritis of the knee showed virtually no difference in patients on the placebo arm. This resulted in a 30% cut in the biotech’s staff and Nelsen’s eventual departure, and the company pivoted to ophthalmology and neurology.
At the start of this year, the company sliced away another 50% of its workforce, primarily in its discovery research unit, to stretch its cash into 2023.