Clinical-stage biotechnology firm Equillium (NASDAQ:EQ), which focuses on developing novel therapeutics to treat severe autoimmune and inflammatory disorders, released encouraging clinical data regarding itolizumab. A monoclonal antibody, itolizumab aims to provide positive outcomes for patients suffering from lupus nephritis (or LN). As a result, EQ stock popped up 20%, though it pared back some gains in the early afternoon session.
According to Equillium CEO Bruce Steel, despite advances in approved LN-targeted therapies, 60% of patients fail to achieve complete responses at 12 months. Therefore, this less-than-desirable outcome emphasizes the need for novel therapeutics featuring differentiated mechanisms.
“We are very encouraged by the interim data from the LN portion of the EQUALISE study as we observed compelling responses in a patient population with significantly greater baseline proteinuria than recent studies, with a mean baseline UPCR [urine protein creatinine ratio] of 5.8 grams,” said Steel.
Per the Mayo Clinic, LN “occurs when lupus autoantibodies affect structures in your kidneys that filter out waste. This causes kidney inflammation and may lead to blood in the urine, protein in the urine [proteinuria], high blood pressure, impaired kidney function or even kidney failure.”
Positive Results But Challenges Remain for EQ Stock
Per Benzinga, the breakdown of Equillium’s results for itolizumab helped inspire confidence in EQ stock. Most notably, at the end of the study, “83% of patients achieved a complete or partial clinical response, with 67% reaching a greater than 80% reduction in UPCR.”
Further, “8 of 12 (67%) subjects achieved over 50% reduction in UPCR (6 subjects still dosing).” Just as importantly, researchers discovered itolizumab to be “generally safe and well tolerated, with no drug-related serious adverse events or treatment discontinuations.”
Equillium “continues to enroll patients in the Type B portion of the EQUALISE study and anticipates sharing topline data in mid-2023.”
Although the implications are positive for EQ stock, it’s worth reminding investors that shares fell 47% on a year-to-date basis. In the trailing month, EQ gave up more than 22%.
On Sept. 7 of this year, Equillium agreed to acquire Metacrine (NASDAQ:MTCR) — a specialist in inflammatory bowel diseases — in an all-stock transaction. Investors took the news poorly and EQ stock struggled since. Therefore, Equillium presumably must start building longer-term momentum from the itolizumab data to inspire stakeholders to stay onboard.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.