The Hype Behind Massachusetts Biotech Corbus' Sole Pipeline Drug

Published: Mar 20, 2017

The Hype Behind Massachusetts Biotech Corbus' Sole Pipeline Drug March 17, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

NORWOOD, Mass. – Investors in Corbus Pharmaceuticals were certainly well-pleased with the performance of company stock over the course of 2016. Following positive mid-stage clinical trial results for its lead drug, anabasum, formerly known as Resunab, shares rose 412 percent over the course of the year.

The company has been leveraging its way into the systemic sclerosis and cystic fibrosis markets behind its experimental drug. Anabasum is currently being evaluated in three separate clinical studies in diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis (scleroderma), cystic fibrosis and diffuse cutaneous, skin-predominant dermatomyositis. At the end of summer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an open-label extension to the Phase II trial of anabasum for systemic sclerosis, allowing patients to receive the drug for an additional 12 months. Resunab is a preferential agonist to the CB2 receptor expressed on activated immune cells and fibroblasts. Resunab was granted Orphan Drug Designation for the treatment of systemic sclerosis by the FDA in June 2015. In November, Phase II data results from the systemic sclerosis trial were highly promising and exceeded the expectations of Corbus leadership.

Yuval Cohen, chief executive officer of Corbus, told the Boston Business Journal he believes anabasum could be on the market by 2020. With that kind of timetable, Cohen said the company has to move quickly as it prepares to launch Phase III trials. Corbus has already met with officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to discuss the next stage.

The company is also planning to announce recently completed Phase II results for anabasum in cystic fibrosis. Although Cohen said Corbus is not priming itself to be a competitor to Boston-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals , the lead company in the CF market, he did tell the Journal that anabasum has a broader potential to treat patients than Vertex’ lead drugs, Kalydeco and Orkambi. The Vertex drugs are designed to treat subsets of CF patients, while anabasum has the potential to treat all cystic fibrosis patients, Cohen told the Journal.

Additionally, since anabasum has shown itself to be so versatile, Corbus is planning a Phase II study of anabasum for the treatment of lupus later this year.

Shares of Corbus are currently trading at $9.65 as of 11:28 a.m. This time last year shares of the stock were trading at $1.75. While the stock has shown steady growth, it did experience a decline of more than 20 percent in October 2016 after The Street’s Adam Feuerstein cited an unnamed healthcare investor who questioned the efficacy of anabasum. That unnamed source, which Feuerstein touted as reliable, said it is “not clear what the CB2 receptor does, or if it does anything.” Despite the digs of the unnamed source, who claimed he was short on Corbus stock, shares rebounded and jumped on the Phase II results released in November.

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