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Panbela Therapeutics has a huge upside, says Roth

Roth Capital Partners analyst Johnathan Aschoff kept a “Buy” rating on biotech stock Panbela Therapeutics (Panbela Therapeutics Stock Quote, Charts, News, Analysts, Financials NASDAQ:PBLA) after the successful passing of a safety review on one of its clinical assets.

Minneapolis-based Panbela Therapeutics is a clinical stage company developing therapeutics, including ivospemin (SBP-101) for tumour growth inhibition in metastatic pancreatic cancer and Flynpovi for sporadic large bowel polyps. The company announced on Monday that the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) of the Phase 3 ASPIRE clinical trial for patients with untreated metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma has completed its pre-specified review of safety data for treated patients in the trial. Panbela said the DSMB recommended that the study continue without modification.

“We are pleased that no safety concerns were identified and the DSMB’s recommendation is to proceed without modification to the ASPIRE Trial. With a focus on enrolment and completing site initiations, we are looking forward to the interim analysis in early 2024.” said Jennifer K. Simpson, PhD, MSN, CRNP, President & CEO of Panbela, in a statement.

Panbela shares rose 10.7 per cent in Monday trading. But the stock remains significantly down over the past couple of years, with a current year-to-date return of negative 97 per cent.

With his Buy rating, Ascoff also maintained a 12-month target of $31.00 on PBLA, implying at press time a projected return of 1,341 per cent.

Aschoff said the most compelling argument for Phase 3 success for ivospemin comes from Phase a1 and 1b data from first-line metastatic PDA patients taking the current Phase 3 SBP-101 dose of 0.4 mgkg in combination with gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel. The analyst said in those 29 patients, the response rate was 48 per cent, with 34 per cent SD and 17 per cent PD for a disease control rate of 83 per cent.

“Although cross trial comparisons are always suspect, we nonetheless note that 431 patients from the Phase 3 MPACT trial taking gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel had a 23 per cent response rate and 48 per cent disease control rate,” Aschoff said.

“We note that six of the 29 optimally dosed Phase 1 SBP-101 patients are still alive beyond one year since starting therapy. Regarding notable safety items, although there were four grade 3 or 4 serious adverse visual events among all 50 Phase 1a and 1b patients taking any dose of SBP-101, patients with a history of retinopathy or at risk of retinal detachment are excluded from current and future SBP-101 trials,” he said.

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