Mackie Research launched coverage on Wednesday on drug developer Algernon Pharmaceuticals (Algernon Pharmaceuticals Stock Quote, Chart, News CSE:AGN) with a “Speculative Buy” rating, with analyst André Uddin saying the stock has a number of catalysts over the next few quarters.
Vancouver-based Algernon is focused on repurposing for new indications in the US and European markets small molecule drugs already approved and genericized outside of those districts.
Currently, Algernon has four repurposed drug candidates in its pipeline for indications including COVID-19, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), chronic cough, CKD, NASH and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Since its debut in 2018, microcap AGN (the company has a market capitalization of $38 million) has been mostly trading under $0.50 per share but has been on the upswing for much of 2020, moving from $0.06 to now in the mid-$0.30 range.
In his coverage initiation, Uddin said the company’s drug repurposing strategy can generate decent shareholder value going forward.
“This strategy should give the company two key advantages: (1) those repurposed candidates can avoid near-term generic competition as they have never been approved in the U.S. and they are considered new chemical entities that are eligible for market exclusivity, and (2) they can directly enter into Phase 2 trials as they have well established safety profiles. Algernon’s drug repurposing strategy was historically used by Biogen, Medivation and Celgene – those examples suggest this strategy can work,” Uddin wrote.
Earlier this month, Algernon announced its first patient dosed in a Phase 2 trial for IPF and chronic cough for its re-purposed lead product, drug NP-120 (Ifenprodil).
On the announcement, CEO Christopher J. Moreau said in a press release on August 5, “Ifenprodil showed very promising results in our IPF and cough pre-clinical studies and so I am very pleased to announce our first patient in and the formal start of our clinical program. As the study progresses, the Company will make an assessment of the enrollment rate and will provide an update to the market on a projected completion date as well as when the data will be expected.”
As for catalysts, Uddin said the Phase 2 Ifenprodil for chronic cough trial should deliver results in Q1 2021 while full study data should arrive in Q2 2021. Uddin also pointed to Algernon’s repurposing of Ifenprodil for COVID-19 in a Phase 2b/3 trial currently underway, with data expected in Q4 of 2020.
Along with Ifenprodil, Algernon has what Uddin called positive data from three other drug candidates for NASH, chronic kidney disease and IBD, saying all three could directly enter into Phase 2 trials in the future.
On the management front, Uddin has praise for its “lean but experienced” team, with a CEO in Moreau who he calls a seasoned veteran in the healthcare sector and CSO Dr. Mark Williams who has over 15 years experience in drug development including the repurposing of three drugs in diabetes, Alzheimer’s and rheumatoid arthritis.
Uddin has started off AGN with a 12-month price target of $0.80, which at press time represented a projected return of 116 per cent.