Conatus Entrusts Keith W. Marshall With Key Management Roles

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Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc.CNAT announced the appointment of Keith W. Marshall as executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer.

Notably, Marshall has over fifteen years of experience in finance, operations and business advisory roles. Also, he was an agent on private placements for private biotechnology companies and an advisor to buyers and sellers in biotechnology as well as pharmaceutical company transactions.

Therefore, the company is banking on Marshall's contributions as it aims at completing its four ongoing phase IIb studies for its lead candidate, emricasan, besides expanding its pipeline.

Meanwhile, Conatus is focusing on its efforts to develop emricasan. In January 2016, the company started ENCORE-NF study under the ENCORE program for potential improvements in fibrosis and steatohepatitis in patients with fibrosis caused by Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Top-line data is expected in the first half of 2019.

In May 2017, Conatus also initiated another study, ENCORE-LF. It is a phase IIb trial, studying EMRI monotherapy on patients with decompensated NASH cirrhosis. Top-line data from the study is expected in 2019. Going forward, the company plans to initiate a new study - ENCORE-XT - a planned extension study in patients who completed the ENCORE-PH or ENCORE-LF studies with continued monitoring for efficacy, safety, clinical outcomes and health-related quality of life.

In fact, the ENCORE studies are being conducted to provide clinically relevant efficacy, dosing, and safety data to support the initial registration of emricasan for chronic administration in patients with NASH cirrhosis and potentially support future label expansion.

In December 2016, Conatus signed an exclusive option, collaboration and license agreement with Novartis NVS for the worldwide development and commercialization of emricasan, which is a positive. This strategic agreement with Novartis not only lends expertise to Conatus but will also provide the company with much needed funds for the development of emricasan.

Yet, Conatus has had its share of pipeline setbacks. In 2008, the FDA had placed a clinical hold on emricasan while it was being developed by Pfizer PFE due to a preclinical observation. However, the clinical hold was lifted in 2013.

Currently, several studies on emricasan are ongoing with data readouts scheduled over next couple of years. Also, stiff competition remains a threat. In fact, several companies like Allergan AGN , Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Galectin Therapeutics and Enanta Pharmaceuticals are working on developing treatments for NASH.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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