Matinas BioPharma slumps on phase 2 flop despite positive PR

Bio-Twitter were not amused by the reporting of the data

Small cap biotech Matinas BioPharma was off by nearly 50% premarket on data coming out of its midstage vulvovaginal candidiasis candidate.

The New Jersey-based company said in its release, much to the ire of Bio-Twitter, that topline figures from its proof-concept phase 2 trial of MAT2203 in women with moderate to severe vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) “achieved its primary endpoint in demonstrating MAT2203 is safe and well tolerated.”

But then came the word that has seen its shares hit hard this morning: “However,” he said, “both the clinical and mycological responses for MAT2203 did not meet the company’s expectations and were below that of [marketed antifungal medication] fluconazole, the guideline-recommended therapy for the treatment of VVC.”

The biotech’s CEO, Roelof Rongen, was keen to talk down the failure, and up the drug and its program: “In the context of our overall development program for MAT2203, this phase 2 study was not designed or powered to support an indication for the treatment of VVC and therefore supplant fluconazole as the standard of care. Instead, our goal was, in addition to further establishing the safety and tolerability of MAT2203, to demonstrate efficacy of MAT2203 in a non-life threatening fungal infection consistent with the development of other antifungal therapies, as we prepared MAT2203 to enter a pivotal trial in the prevention of invasive fungal infections.”

He admitted that in “this particular study, we were not successful in demonstrating meaningful clinical or mycological response of MAT2203 as compared to fluconazole.”

He adds his own however, saying, “Upon review of the improvements over baseline of the composite clinical score of patient signs and symptoms at Day 5 and Day 12 at both the 200 mg and 400 mg arms,” these “could indicate clinical response which may provide support for the systemic delivery of MAT2203 to the site of infection.”

It says more detailed data are coming, and that it “will provide guidance on details and timing of additional development plans for MAT2203 during the third quarter of 2017.”

Investors, however, were spooked. The shares in the around $280 million market cap company (as of Friday) were down nearly 46% premarket to just $1.50 a share. It had been nearly 10%, bumped along with much of biotech last week, at the end of Friday trading.

Bio-Twitter was quick to turn on the biotech and its data reporting, with Brad Loncar, founder of the Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy Index and investor, saying, “$MTNB and the most expensive word in biotech: 'However,'” and Julia Skripka-Serry added, “When you have to use the sentence, 'we were pleased to see what we believe could indicate clinical response,' that's a damn #megafail $MTNB."