Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. (ACOR) has been looking to expand its pipeline and reduce its dependence on lead product, Ampyra, which is approved for the improvement of walking in multiple sclerosis patients.
Apart from studying Ampyra for additional indications like cerebral palsy and post-stroke deficits (phase IIb/III study to commence in the second quarter of 2014), Acorda is evaluating other candidates like GGF2 (treatment of heart failure - proof-of-concept study to be initiated by year end) and rHIgM22 (multiple sclerosis - phase I ongoing).
The company has also started enrolling patients in a phase II study being conducted with AC105. The double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled study is being conducted in patients with traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). AC105’s safety and efficacy will be evaluated in this study which will have many exploratory efficacy measures.
Patients will receive six intravenous doses of AC105 or placebo over 30 hours with the first dose being administered within 12 hours of the injury.
We note that AC105 has fast track status in the U.S. Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command has awarded a $2.67 million research contract to Acorda for the phase II study.
Acorda is also looking towards in-licensing deals and acquisitions to expand its pipeline. In Dec 2012, Acorda acquired Neuronex and added diazepam nasal spray (management of seizure in certain epilepsy patients) to its pipeline. Further, in Jul 2013, Acorda acquired NGX-1998, a phase III ready product for treating patients suffering neuropathic pain, and Quenteza, an approved product for the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia.
Acorda currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). At present, companies like Actelion Ltd. (ALIOF), Alkermes (ALKS) and Agenus Inc. (AGEN) look attractive. While Actelion is a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stock, Alkermes and Agenus are Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stocks.