Back-to-back PhII flops for lead drug scuttles Aquinox stock

Aquinox CEO David Main

Two weeks after reporting that its lead drug failed a Phase II pain study, Aquinox Pharmaceuticals came back with more bad news this morning, noting its flop in a separate mid-stage study for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients with a history of frequent exacerbations.

The news shredded the Canadian biotech's share price, which plunged 66% on the setback.

After giving a 200 mg dose of AQX-1125 daily for two weeks, the drug failed to demonstrate any improvement over a placebo for either the primary or the secondary endpoint.

Back in late June Aquinox noted that its lead therapy failed to post statistically significant results for bladder pain, noting a 2.4 point reduction on an 11-point scale compared to a 1.3-point drop for a placebo. Placebo responses routinely scuttle pain drugs. But Aquinox insisted at that time that it was not finished with its work on pain.

"We believe that FLAGSHIP was a robust and well conducted trial and the results are conclusive," said David Main, the CEO at Aquinox. "Given the encouraging activity seen in our recent LEADERSHIP trial our focus will be on the further development of AQX-1125 in bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis. In addition, we are awaiting results from our KINSHIP trial in atopic dermatitis."

The venture arms of J&J and Pfizer came in to back Aquinox before it filed for an IPO in 2014, joining a big wave of biotechs leaping into the public market. AQX-1125 works by boosting SHIP1, a component of the PI3K cellular signaling pathway that modulates inflammation.

- here's the release