Health/Life Sciences

Eliem Therapeutics shares sink greater than 50% after lead program fails to indicate profit in clinic

Eliem CEO Bob Azelby. (Eliem Photo)

Shares of Eliem Therapeutics fell more than 50% Monday after the company reported disappointing clinical data.

Its compound to treat pain, ETX-810, failed to show a benefit over placebo in alleviating pain after four weeks in patients with diabetic neuropathic pain (DPNP).

We are confident that the results are unambiguous and that there is not currently a development path forward in DPNP for ETX-810,” said CEO Bob Azelby in a statement. The company expects data on a trial testing ETX-810 in sciatica in the third quarter this year.

Seattle-based Eliem also said it was delaying enrollment in a phase 2a clinical trial for another compound for depression, based on phase 1b data on three patients. Drug levels in the patients’ bodies were “significantly lower than expected,” said the company. The compound was being evaluated for for major depressive disorder (MDD) and perimenopausal depression.

Eliem went public in July, raising $80 million in its IPO amid a year that saw a record number of biotech public offerings nationwide.

The values of two other recently public Seattle biotech companies have also suffered in the wake of recent clinical findings.

In March, Icosavax posted data “below our expectations” on its COVID-19 vaccine, and Silverback Therapeutics shut down its once-promising oncology program and announced layoffs in the wake clinical data showing “limited” responses.

While it pauses its ETX-155 study, Eliem will investigate why drug exposures were different from those observed previously, including evaluating “any differences between the lots of drug product used in this study and those of the prior Phase 1 trials.”

ETX-155 affects the actions of the neurotransmitter GABAA, a molecule that relays messages between neurons. The company is also developing ETX-155 for a form of epilepsy and has preclinical programs for other agents for nervous system conditions.

Elieum’s ETX-810 program builds on previous clinical studies, by other groups, of a compound called PEA. PEA is a lipid-based molecule normally found in the body and has been assessed as a treatment for pain in earlier trials as a dietary supplement. ETX-810 is designed to improve the body’s absorption of and exposure to PEA.

At the end of 2021, Eliem had $161.4 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities, enough to run operations through the end of late 2023.

“We continue to be excited about the potential of our pipeline of drug candidates in multiple neuronal excitability disorders, and we are well capitalized to fund the company through multiple additional catalysts across the pipeline,” said Azelby.

The company has about 30 full-time employees. Ten are in the Seattle area and the others are remote or working at the company’s other location in Cambridge, U.K. According to a spokesperson, Eliem is not anticipating layoffs “at this time.”

While biotech market values overall have declined since their highs from early last year, Eliem’s drop has been steep, falling to less than $3/share on Monday from a high of about $27.50 in September.

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