Acorda Therapeutics, Inc.
) recently announced data from a phase I trial (n=40) evaluating
the safety, tolerability and exploratory efficacy of glial growth
factor 2 (GGF2) in patients with heart failure, who have already
received currently available treatments. Acorda has collaborated
with Vanderbilt University Medical Center for the candidate.
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In the double-blind, placebo controlled, escalating, single-dose,
phase I study, it was found that a single dose of GGF2 was
generally well tolerated up to 0.75 mg/kg by the patients. Most
commonly observed side effects associated with the use of GGF2
were headache, site injection reaction and gastrointestinal
Additionally, GGF2 also demonstrated encouraging improvement in
left ventricular ejection. We note that the US Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) has granted fast track designation to GGF2
for the treatment of patients with heart failure.
We are pleased with the company's efforts to develop its
pipeline. However, most of the candidates are in early stages of
development. Consequently they are quite a few years away from
entering the market, if at all. We are also concerned about
Acorda's dependence on Ampyra (improve walking in patients with
multiple sclerosis) for growth.
While we are encouraged by the improvement in Ampyra's
performance and the 2013 Ampyra guidance, it remains to be seen
whether the trend can be sustained.
Acorda carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) in the short run. Stocks
that currently look attractive in the pharma space include
Osiris Therapeutics, Inc.
). While Cytokinetics and Osiris are Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy)
stocks, Agenus is a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock.