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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Strategic Evaluate for Damaged Biotech, Huge Low cost to Money


Aclaris Therapeutics (ACRS) (~$85MM market cap) is a clinical-stage biotech firm targeted on growing novel medicine for immuno-inflammatory ailments.  In November, the corporate introduced their lead candidate, zunsemetinib, didn’t meet its main or secondary endpoints in a Section 2 trial for the therapy of average to extreme rheumatoid arthritis, the inventory dropped 80+% on the information.  Earlier this week, Aclaris introduced their CEO was stepping down and the corporate was initiating a strategic assessment:

Concurrent with immediately’s announcement, Aclaris additionally introduced that it’s conducting a strategic assessment of its enterprise to find out the way to optimally deploy its capital to maximise shareholder return. On a preliminary unaudited foundation, as of December 31, 2023, Aclaris’ combination money, money equivalents and marketable securities was roughly $182 million.

Aclaris additionally reiterates the next enterprise plans:

  • ATI-1777: Aclaris is searching for a growth and commercialization associate for ATI-1777, its investigational topical “gentle” JAK 1/3 inhibitor. Aclaris just lately reported optimistic top-line outcomes from its Section 2b trial in atopic dermatitis.
  • ATI-2138: Aclaris is assessing the best pathway together with the lead indication for ATI-2138, its Section 2 prepared investigational oral covalent ITK/JAK3 inhibitor. Aclaris introduced optimistic outcomes from its Section 1 MAD trial of ATI-2138 in 2023.
  • Discovery: Aclaris plans to proceed to advance discovery packages via KINect®, its proprietary drug discovery platform.

I do not love the verbiage they use right here, from the sounds of “optimally deploy its capital” and “reiterates the next enterprise plans” it seems the preliminary want is to proceed their analysis and growth pipeline.  Nevertheless, this example appears ripe for an activist, certainly Tang Capital and BML Advisors each personal 6+% of the shares every.  Tang Capital may throw out a suggestion, much like RPHM, and alter the course of the strategic assessment.

My again of envelope liquidation estimate:

As often, these are very a lot swag estimates, ACRS does a pleasant job of breaking out their R&D expense by program, be at liberty to get extra granular in your estimates.

On the optimistic aspect (from an funding perspective), the corporate did do a 46% reduction-in-force in December, halted zunsemetinib growth and seem principally in a standstill on ATI-1777 and ATI-2138 as they resolve on subsequent steps.  On the detrimental aspect, the co-founder is now the interim CEO, he may not wish to promote and would possibly fairly proceed on growing new medicine, however the activist shareholders and excessive price of capital will hopefully change his thoughts.  That is on the riskier aspect of the damaged biotech spectrum, however stays at a fairly enticing low cost to web money.

Disclosure: I personal shares of ACRS

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