Can-Fite Biopharma on Sunday reported positive intermediate results for its Phase II clinical trials of the drug CF-101 to treat moderate to severe psoriasis.
Based on the results from the first 103 patients, Can-Fite is recruiting more patients for a 300-person trial that will span the United States, Europe and Israel.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disease that affects between two percent and three percent of people. The market for psoriasis drugs is estimated at $3.6 billion per year, 67 percent of which belongs to biopharmaceuticals (as opposed to "chemical" drugs).
Administered monotherapy, the efficacy of CF 101 increased in a linear fashion throughout the 24-week trial, according to analysis of the results by a third-party firm. In that CF 101 was similar to competing drugs in advanced development, including Cellgene's Apremilast. Another is Pfizer's Tofacitinib, which was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Completing the Phase II trial will cost $1 million, projects Can-Fite CEO Pnina Fishman.
Can-Fite, which develops medicines for inflammatory disease and liver diseases, is running short of cash: at the third quarter's end it was down to NIS 7.5 million. Based on the company's cash burn rate, it will need to raise more capital or sell assets in the near future.
Can-Fite has several commercial possibilities that will keep it in business, including an additional payment from the Japanese pharma company Seikagaku for meeting a drug development milestone, Fishman says. In total Seikagaku will pay Can-Fite up to $19 million to license CF 101 for treating rheumatoid arthritis. $7.5 million of that has already been paid.
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