9 Meters calls it quits after measuring options, reports just $150K in cash

You can’t get far with $150,000 in drug development, a painful realization that 9 Meters Biopharma knows all too well, as the North Carolina-based biotech filed for bankruptcy.

The company disclosed its decision late Tuesday, a day after telling a federal bankruptcy court that it couldn’t continue. The company reported roughly $152,000 in cash on hand in addition to $4 million in intangibles and intellectual property, according to a court filing. The biotech previously reported having $6.9 million in cash and cash equivalents as of the end of March. 

The irony is that the company currently has a mid-stage GLP-1 inhibitor, a potentially hot-ticket item given the class's budding use in weight loss management. But 9 Meters was aiming vurolenatide at short bowel syndrome. The drug had also begun to stall in the clinic, after the company announced in late May that, following a conversation with U.S. regulators, it was likely best for vurolenatide to be tested in another phase 2 trial rather than advance to phase 3. The company also announced at the time that CEO John Temperato was resigning. 

But there was no explicit indication in 9 Meters’ most recent earnings report that the biotech was on the precipice of dissolving. In fact, the company said at the time that it had positive interactions with the FDA regarding the potential launch of NM-136—an anti-GIP antibody to treat obesity—into the clinic and was planning on doing so. 

9 Meters also raised a $5 million direct offering in mid-March that was slated to fund both further development of vurolenatide and NM-136. But the company was also contending with a lender that held millions in a convertible note. 9 Meters and the holder of the note reached an agreement in late April whereby the biotech didn’t have to pay up in full, at least at the time—an agreement that was subsequently amended twice. Those extensions have been terminated as a result of the bankruptcy filing. 

Though 9 Meters seemed to be making progress, albeit at a trickle, the biotech was still stalked by prior failures, most recently in 2022 when larazotide flopped in a phase 3 trial for patients with celiac disease. The company has since pivoted, aiming that drug at a couple of COVID-related conditions, including multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children and long COVID.