Viking Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:VKTX) Receives Orphan Drug Designation for VK0214, How Will Investors React?

Clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel therapies for metabolic and endocrine disorders, Viking Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:VKTX), announces that the U.S. FDA has granted the orphan drug designation to their VK0214.

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Viking Therapeutics, Inc. (“Viking”) (VKTX), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel therapies for metabolic and endocrine disorders, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted orphan drug designation to VK0214 for the treatment of X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD).  VK0214 is a novel, orally available thyroid receptor beta (TRβ) agonist that selectively regulates the expression of genes believed to be relevant to the manifestation of X-ALD.

VK0214 is currently being evaluated in preclinical models of X-ALD under a sponsored research agreement with the Kennedy Krieger Institute.  Data to date have demonstrated promising in vivo activity, including significant reductions in plasma very long chain fatty acids (VLCFA), important biochemical markers of disease.

“Viking is committed to evaluating the potential of VK0214 for the treatment of X-ALD, a devastating and progressively debilitating disease for which there is no approved therapy.  Our research indicates that VK0214 positively impacts key genes and biomarkers that may affect the onset of X-ALD, which suggests potential therapeutic benefits in this setting,” said Brian Lian, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Viking Therapeutics.  “The Orphan Drug designation underscores the importance of new therapies in areas of high unmet medical need, such as X-ALD, and we look forward to the continued advancement of VK0214 for this underserved disease.”

X-ALD is a rare and often fatal metabolic disorder characterized by a breakdown in the protective barriers surrounding brain and nerve cells; a process known as demyelination.  The disease, for which there is no approved treatment, is caused by mutations in a peroxisomal transporter of VLCFAs, known as ABCD1.  As a result, transporter function is impaired and patients are unable to efficiently metabolize VLCFA.  The resulting accumulation can trigger a rapid, inflammatory demyelination, which leads to cognitive impairment, motor skill deterioration, and even death.  X-ALD is estimated to occur in approximately 1 in 17,000 births.

FDA’s Orphan Drug Designation program provides certain incentives for companies developing therapeutics to treat rare diseases or conditions, defined as those affecting less than 200,000 individuals in the U.S.  A drug candidate and its sponsor must meet several key criteria in order to qualify for, and obtain, orphan drug status.  Once a drug has received orphan drug designation, the developer qualifies for a range of benefits, including federal grants, tax credits, reduction in certain regulatory fees, and the potential for seven years of market exclusivity for the drug following FDA marketing approval.

About VK0214

VK0214 is a novel, orally available thyroid receptor beta (TRβ) agonist that selectively modulates lipoprotein and triglyceride levels in liver tissue.  This mechanism has been demonstrated to affect the expression of the genes that are relevant to the manifestation of X-ALD.  In X-ALD, mutations in the ABCD1 gene lead to the accumulation of very long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs) which is believed to be a fundamental cause of the disease.  Research has shown that increasing the expression of the ABCD2 gene can counteract this process and lead to normalization of VLCFA levels.  In preclinical studies, VK0214 has been shown to induce expression of ABCD2 by increasing TRβ activity, leading to the belief that it may provide therapeutic benefit to X-ALD patients.

About X-ALD

X-ALD is a rare and often fatal metabolic disorder characterized by a breakdown in the protective barriers surrounding brain and nerve cells; a process known as demyelination.  The disease, for which there is no approved treatment, is caused by mutations in a peroxisomal transporter of VLCFAs, known as ABCD1.  As a result, transporter function is impaired and patients are unable to efficiently metabolize VLCFA.  The resulting accumulation can trigger a rapid, inflammatory demyelination, which leads to cognitive impairment, motor skill deterioration, and even death.  X-ALD is estimated to occur in approximately 1 in 17,000 births.

The thyroid beta receptor is known to regulate expression of an alternative VLCFA transporter, known as ABCD2.  Various preclinical models have demonstrated that increased expression of ABCD2 can lead to normalization of VLCFA metabolism.

About Viking Therapeutics, Inc.

Viking Therapeutics, Inc. is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel, first-in-class or best-in-class therapies for metabolic and endocrine disorders.  The company’s research and development activities leverage its expertise in metabolism to develop innovative therapeutics designed to improve patients’ lives.  Viking has exclusive worldwide rights to a portfolio of five therapeutic programs in clinical trials or preclinical studies, which are based on small molecules licensed from Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated.  The company’s clinical programs include VK5211, an orally available, non-steroidal selective androgen receptor modulator, or SARM, in Phase 2 development for the treatment and prevention of lean body mass loss in patients who have undergone hip fracture surgery, VK2809, a small molecule thyroid beta agonist in Phase 2 development for hypercholesterolemia and fatty liver disease, and VK0612, a first-in-class, orally available drug candidate in Phase 2 development for type 2 diabetes.  Viking is also developing novel and selective agonists of the thyroid beta receptor for adrenoleukodystrophy, as well as two earlier-stage programs targeting metabolic diseases and anemia.

Follow Viking on Twitter @Viking_VKTX.

Original Source

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Viking Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:VKTX) shares have moved -4.96% on the news thus far today and have traded in the range of $1.07 – 1.38 during the current session. In order to take a look at where the stock might be headed longer term, investors often look to research firms that cover the stock. Sell-side research firms currently have a consensus one-year price target of $7.56 on the stock.  This is according to brokerage analysts polled by Thomson Reuters First Call.  The sell-side analysts are projecting earnings per share of $-0.25 for the next fiscal quarter.  For the current year, analysts are predicting earnings of $-0.98 per share according to First Call.

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In looking at where the stock is trading on a technical level, the stock is trading +4.86% away from its 50-day moving average of $1.10.  Based on the most recent available data, the equity is -77.76% off of its 52-week high of $5.17 and +27.64% away from its 52-week low which is $0.90.

Today, the stock opened at $1.31 and the last bid at the time of writing stood at $1.15.  During the session thus far, the equity dipped down to $1.07 and touched $1.38 as the high point.  Viking Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:VKTX) has a market cap of $23.20M and has seen an average daily volume of 216,859 over the past three months.

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