Mirna Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:MIRN) Cancels Development of Lead Drug After Participants Became Sick, Company Bracing for Market Response

Cancer-fighting Austin-based company, Mirna Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:MIRN), announces that it has canceled development of MRX34 after participants became sick and three died.

Mirna Therapeutics Inc. has canceled development of its lead drug, a cancer-fighting treatment called MRX34, and its chief executive is now looking to maximize returns for shareholders of the Austin biopharmaceutical company — including a possible sale or reverse merger.

Clinical trials of MRX34 were halted in September after participants became sick. It was recently made public that three people died. Now Mirna has shelved the drug’s development and suspended its research and development programs. Accordingly, the company is cutting employees and expenses “in order to preserve capital and streamline operations,” according to an announcement.

“We were disappointed with the outcome of our Phase I study, however, our first priority in developing innovative therapeutics is the safety of patients,” Dr. Paul Lammers, president and CEO of Mirna, said in a statement.

Reached by phone on Friday afternoon, Lammers said it was a difficult decision to shut down development of MRX34 after nearly a decade working on it but that it was the best option for safety and to avoid wasting resources on a product that was a long-shot to ever be commercialized. He said Mirna’s workforce has been cut to 12 people, down from 31 at the end of 2015, as the company finishes its clinical trial reports for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Oncology is a difficult undertaking,” Lammers said. “It’s high risk, high reward. To be honest, if you have a Phase I oncology treatment, your chance to make it to market is one in 20. So we’re part of the 95 percent that didn’t make it.”

Lammers indicated Mirna executives are weighing their options, such as a sale or reverse merger, in which a private company acquires and merges with a public one (another Austin company, Apollo Endosurgery, is pursuing that strategy with a California public company).

Mirna reported Thursday a net loss of about $5.4 million for the third quarter, down from $6.2 million in the same period a year ago. Mirna also reported its research and development expenses were $3.4 million for the three months ended Sept. 30, down from $4.7 million the year before.

Shares of Mirna (Nasdaq: MIRN) have lost about 80 percent of their value so far this year — including a precipitous fall in September after it halted trials of MRX34. Shares jumped slightly Friday on news of the company’s strategic pivot and were trading at $1.37 in the early afternoon, up 7 cents or about 5.3 percent. Go here to track its stock.

MRX34 was a novel approach to battling cancer by tapping microRNA, a basic component of cell biology. By inserting certain cancer-suppressing microRNA into cells, Mirna scientists hoped to limit cell replication and ward off tumors.

Mirna was spun out of Austin’s Asuragen Inc. in 2007 and went public in October 2015. It spent $19.4 million in 2015 on research and development, with a net loss of nearly $25 million.

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Mirna Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:MIRN) shares are moving -3.85% on the news today and have traded in the range of $1.25 – 1.46 during the current trading session. A number of brokerage analysts have recently weighed in on the stock, providing price target projections. The covering firms currently have a consensus one-year price target of $2.90 on the stock.  This is according to brokerage analysts polled by Thomson Reuters First Call.  This is the average number from the individual targets provided by the firms.  Analysts are projecting earnings per share of $-0.36 for the next fiscal quarter.  For the current year, analysts are predicting earnings of $-1.25 per share according to First Call.

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In looking at where Mirna Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:MIRN) is trading on a technical level, the stock is trading -22.73% away from its 50-day moving average of $1.62.  Based on the most recent available data, the equity is -88.65% off of its 52-week high of $11.01 and +11.61% away from its 52-week low which is $1.12.

Today, the stock opened at $1.45 and the last bid at the time of writing stood at $1.25.  During the session thus far, the equity dipped down to $1.25 and touched $1.46 as the high point.  Mirna Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:MIRN) has a market cap of $26.04M and has seen an average daily volume of 50,095 over the past three months.

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Disclaimer: The views, opinions, and information expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any company stakeholders, financial professionals, or analysts. Examples of analysis performed within this article are only examples. They should not be utilized to make stock portfolio or financial decisions as they are based only on limited and open source information. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of any analysts or financial professionals.

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