Portage Biotech hints at potential closure as it halts programs, hunts for strategic options

Portage Biotech is putting the clamps on existing work to save cash as it prioritizes a hunt for strategic alternatives. 

The company said Friday that after a review of the financing market and the amount of spending necessary to advance its pipeline, the search for strategic alternatives would commence. In the meantime, Portage is halting enrollment in a clinical trial testing both its adenosine 2A inhibitor PORT-6 and its adenosine 2B inhibitor PORT-7. Portage bought both assets from Tarus Therapeutics less than two years ago. 

Portage is considering anything from securing partners for its assets to a merger, sale or a full wind-down of the company. The biotech has no timetable for finding a path forward. 

About three months ago, Portage said it was all in on prioritizing development of its adenosine inhibitors, electing to pause further development of an iNKT program. The biotech had been expecting to provide interim data from a phase 1a trial testing PORT-6 in patients with solid tumors at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in June, with final data teased for November. 

But the company had little money to work with, entering 2024 with just $5.3 million in cash on hand, according to a full-year earnings report from February. Still, Portage affirmed at the time that it intended to press ahead with its adenosine work. 

Those assets were acquired from Tarus back in July 2022, with Portage handing over 2.4 million shares and taking on $3 million in liabilities. In addition to PORT-6 and PORT-7, Portage took hold of a dual adenosine inhibitor, PORT-8, and a preclinical candidate to treat gastrointestinal tumors, dubbed PORT-9. But neither PORT-8 or PORT-9 are still in development, according to Portage’s pipeline.