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Hepion Rips Higher After NASH Drug Confirms Antifibrotic Activity In Animal Study

Shanthi Rexaline

Shares of Hepion Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ: HEPA), formerly ContraVir Pharma, are ripping higher after the thinly-traded, nano-cap biotech announced results from an animal study of its lead product candidate CRV431.

What Happened With CRV431

New Jersey-based Hepion said CRV431 prevented the development of liver cirrhosis in a highly aggressive, preclinical model of liver disease.

FibrosIs is the formation of abnormally large amount of scar tissue in the liver when it attempts to repair and replace damaged cells. It could lead to cirrhosis.

The company noted that in a study conducted by Physiogenex, rats were administered hepatotoxic compound thioacetamide for nine weeks, to induce liver injury and fibrosis, in combination with either CRV431 or vehicle control.

Blinded histopathological analysis done at the end of the study period showed none of the CRV431-treated rats developed cirrhosis as opposed to 50% of the animals in the vehicle group that developed cirrhosis.

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A measure of fibrotic scarring showed a statistically significant mean reduction of 49% in the treatment arm compared to the control arm, the company said. These results, according to Hepion, suggest the antifibrotic activity was primarily responsible for weakening the progression to cirrhosis.

Why It's Important

CRV431 is currently tested in a Phase 1 study for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, and viral hepatitis-induced liver disease.

"The results align with previous findings in other experimental models and highlight the tremendous potential of CRV431 as a treatment for liver diseases, including NASH, where progression to cirrhosis is a primary medical concern," said Hepion CEO Robert Foster.

Hepion also noted that every study conducted thus far demonstrated CRV431's antifibrotic activity, contributing to a body of preclinical efficacy data that complements its ongoing human clinical trials.

Hepion's stock was soaring 71% to $4.19 at time of publication.

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