Battered and bruised, ProNAi Therapeutics drops PNT2258 completely

It’s been a tough few months for microcap ProNAi Therapeutics ($DNAI). After ditching its blood cancer trials for PNT2258 back in June, it has now walked away entirely from its development. But the biotech is looking for a quick turnaround with a newly licensed drug.

This new treatment, a Cdc7 inhibitor known as PNT141, was licensed during the last quarter and the Canadian biotech said it would start early work on the candidate right away, which will focus on as-yet-undisclosed oncology targets.

This drug is a real lifeboat to the biotech, as just two months ago, ProNAi had to halt Phase II trials of its lead drug PNT2258 in relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma given its “modest efficacy.” The drug’s future was in the balance while the biotech assessed whether it should go forward in other indications.

Today, however, the Vancouver-based company has decided to cut and run, and refocus its efforts on its new experimental med.

In a statement released alongside its second quarter results, ProNAi said: “No further investment in PNT2258 or the underlying DNAi platform by ProNAi is contemplated and the company subsequently has closed its research facility based in Plymouth, Michigan, which supported these programs.”

Dr. Nick Glover, president and CEO of ProNAi Therapeutics, was keen to move on from its dropping of PNT2258 by talking about his new treatment.

“Our goal is to build a broad pipeline consisting primarily of assets that leverage discoveries on the leading edge of cancer biology,” he said in a statement. “PNT141 highlights this strategy as Cdc7 has a central function in both DNA replication and DNA damage response, two mechanisms that are increasingly recognized as having critical roles in driving cancer. In addition to toxicology and manufacturing work, we are conducting a robust preclinical assessment of PNT141 aimed at further informing our clinical development plans and patient selection strategies as we prepare this product candidate for clinical trials.”

As of June 30, 2016, ProNAi had $130.6 million in cash and cash equivalents compared to $150.2 million at the end of last year.

The company, which saw its shares nosedive on the Phase II data back in June, ended the day up 1% at the close of trading. It has a market cap of just $57 million.

- check out the release

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