Synta Pharmaceuticals Corp. (SNTA)

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Synta Pharmaceuticals Corp. (SNTA)

Q3 2009 Earnings Call

November 4, 2009 10:00 am ET


Rob Kloppenburg - VP, IR and Corporate Communications

Safi Bahcall - CEO

Keith Ehrlich - CFO

Vojo Vukovic - CMO


Joel Sendek - Lazard Capital Markets

Brian Martin - Barclays Capital

Andrew Vaino - Roth Capital Partners

Joe Aguilera - BioRevolution Capital



Good day and welcome to the Synta Pharmaceuticals Third Quarter 2009 Financial Results Conference Call. (Operator Instructions).

At this time for opening remarks I would like to turn the call over to Rob Kloppenburg, Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications of Synta Pharmaceuticals. Please go ahead sir.

Rob Kloppenburg

With me are Dr. Safi Bahcall, our Chief Executive Officer, Keith Ehrlich, our Chief Financial Officer and Dr. Vojo Vukovic, Synta's Chief Medical Officer. This morning we issued a press release that reported results for the third quarter of 2009. This release can be found on our website at Before we begin I would like to point out that we will be making forward-looking statements based on our current intent, belief and expectations. They are subject to certain risks and uncertainties and I encourage everyone to look at the SEC filings for additional detail.

I will now turn the call over to Dr. Bahcall, after which we'll open the floor to questions. Safi?

Safi Bahcall

I would like to start by summarizing our strategy and priorities for the coming year. Our top two priorities are first to advance our Hsp90 inhibitor STA-9090 to clinical proof of concept. Our goal is to be in a position to initiate registration enabling studies as early as next year, should the data be supportive and second to secure one or more partnerships that will extend our cash runway into at least 2012 and potentially beyond.

On the first goal, advancing 9090, our strategy is driven by the preclinical and clinical results we have seen to date and is to create what we believe will be the most comprehensive and scientifically robust program for an Hsp90 inhibitor in the industry. We are targeting being in 12 or more trials for 9090 by mid-next year. We have been helped over the past several months in our progress towards this goal by the broad support we have received from investigators around the country and their interest in expansion trials with this compound.

Many of these investigators have worked with other Hsp90 inhibitors and their support for 9090 is encouraging for us and for the program. The majority of the new trials will be investigator sponsored. Meaning that they will cost as much less than a typical company sponsored trial. On the second goal, generating one or more partnerships to extend our cash runway, we are now in discussions with multiple companies on multiple programs 9090, Elesclomol and VDA and Apilimod with a variety of possible deal structures.

It is in the company's best interest to be flexible, to engage in multiple parallel discussions, generate competitive bids and weigh the different choices against each other. The best option maybe a smaller set of deals waiting for a larger deal down the road or maybe a larger deal more immediately.

Based on the pace of discussions and level of interest I can say we are optimistic we will be able to generate one or more partnerships in the first half of next year. We are fortunate to have multiple un-partnered programs, a strong discovery engine and a good cash position, all of which gives us flexibility and we intent to use that flexibility as an advantage to get the best choices on the table. Those are our top two priorities, 9090 and partnerships.

We have also been encouraged by the emerging data from Elesclomol both the emerging clinical results which show activity in the lower normal, LDH population in melanoma and the recent progress on the underlying find which will be presented in meetings in November and December. These results emphasize the unique mechanism of action of Elesclomol and point towards why we are seeing a different connectivity in melanoma between the high and low LDH patient groups.

I want to reiterate two points regarding the future of this program. First, we will not be making substantial investments in the program until we have made strong progress on our first two priorities, 9090 and partnerships. Should we restart Elesclomol in the clinic, we do not anticipate any major effort or expenses until later in 2010. Second, I want to emphasize that while it is encouraging to assume clinical activity in such a tough cancer as melanoma, this does not mean that we would immediately go back into melanoma should we restart. Investigators and other tumor types have expressed interest in exploratory trials based on a mechanism and the collected pre-clinical and clinical data. So we may chose to begin with indications other than melanoma.

Finally we are pleased with the progress on our CRACM program which is partnered with our Roche. Our scientists have made excellent progress in identifying some compounds that with a very promising potential as potent oral cytokine inhibitors and are looking forward to seeing the program advance into the clinic. As a reminder all costs for this program are paid by Roche.

I will now turn the call over to Vojo, who will discuss the 9090 program further.

Vojo Vukovic

I would like to begin by saying that we're seeing a great deal of excitement in the Oncology community about Hsp90 inhibition in general and 9090 in particular. The high level of interest in 9090 began with a preclinical results generated both in our labs and in external labs that showed that 9090 is up to a 100 times more potent than first generation Hsp90 inhibitors such as 17-AG and very importantly that 9090 does not appear to have many of the off target of 50's which have been the concern for the first generation Hsp90 inhibitors. This interest has grown as we have advanced the program in the clinic and seen safety data consistent with what has been seen pre-clinically.

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