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Mirna's Murky Clinical Strategy Leaves HC Wainwright Hesitant

September 23, 2016 10:04 am
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HC Wainwright has downgraded Mirna Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: MIRN) to Neutral from Buy as it awaits further steps from the company following the voluntary stop of the MRX34 trial, the company’s investigational microRNA therapy for multiple cancers.

Mirna stopped its Phase 1 study of MRX34 following the occurrence of a fifth immune-related serious adverse event (SAE) and less than compelling benefit-risk profile. Mirna also announced that it will not be initiating a translational medicine study of MRX34 in melanoma patients, planned to begin later this year.

“We believe Mirna may yet develop a compelling microRNA-based oncology drug, but we are uncertain about the delivery technology it may use and the miRNA target it may pursue,” Shaunak Deepak wrote in a note.

Related Link: HC Wainwright Initiates Mirna At Buy, Sees 135% Upside

Meanwhile, Mirna currently lists miR-215 and miR-101 in pre-clinical development. However, management noted that they need to reassess where they stood with the company pipeline. The analyst expects at least a year for identifying its next compound and completing the pre-clinical work required to file a new IND.

On the positive side, the company’s cash hoard will allow it to refine clinical development plans and provides “a comfortable runway” into 2019 at its current rate of spending. Deepak estimates Mirna’s cash position at about $65 million.

“Based on the current monthly cash burn, we believe Mirna will spend roughly $25 million in the next 12 months, funding its ongoing operations at a level that allows further investment in R&D efforts. This will leave the company with roughly $40 million by the start of 4Q17,” Deepak noted.

While removing MRX34 sales from his model, Deepak cut the price target to $2 from $6.

Shares of Mirna Therapeutics closed Thursday’s regular trading at $1.96 and were up roughly 1 percent shortly after Friday’s opening bell.

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