Vital Therapies Inc lost three-quarters of its market value after the company said its liver therapy failed to meet its main goal in a late-stage study, raising doubts about the future of the treatment.

The company said it would stop two ongoing studies of the cell-based therapy, which is aimed at treating alcohol-induced liver diseases such as alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis.

Vital’s liver assist system ELAD (extracorporeal liver assist device) uses a mechanism similar to that of kidney dialysis machines.

It comprises an external device that derives blood from the body using a catheter, filters toxins that damage liver cells and tranfuses the filtered blood back into the patient’s body.

Acute liver failure has a high mortality rate and there are no treatments that can extend survival rates – one of the reasons why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has assigned an orphan status to Vital’s treatment.

Vital said on Friday data from the late-stage study testing the therapy, VTI-208 ELAD, did not show statistical significance in improving overall survival in patients with alcohol-induced liver failure.

Vital said the two ongoing studies it suspended – VTI-210 and VTI-212 – were in the process of enrolling patients.

The VTI-210 study, which is in its late-stage, had enrolled about 150 patients to evaluate the therapy in treating acute alcoholic hepatitis. VTI-212 was enrolling patients with acute liver failure in a mid-stage study.

The company’s shares have fallen nearly 30 percent this year through Friday’s close.

Still, analysts have been overwhelmingly upbeat on the company’s prospects. All of the six brokerages covering the stock have a buy or higher rating, with $50 as the highest price target.

The stock was trading at $4.59 after the bell on Friday.



(Reporting by Rosmi Shaji in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

Source: Reuters