Asterias Biotherapeutics (AST)
Asterias Biotherapeutics is a mid-clinical stage biotechnology company focused on leveraging its proprietary human embryonic stem cell platform to develop pluripotent oligodendrocyte progenitor cell (OPC) containing lead product, AST-OPC1, as a potential spinal cord injury (SCI) treatment. AST-OPC1 has the potential for restoring lost function in neurodegenerative diseases and the encouraging interim results from ongoing Phase I/II (SCiStar) trial in complete (AIS-A) cervical SCI demonstrated significant restored motor function of the upper extremities. We believe these results provide an important initial clinical proof-of-concept, making the AST-OPC1 in SCI program more de-risked. In addition to several more data readouts of the AST-OPC1 in cervical SCI Phase I/II trial expected over 2017 and 2018, the company could also start a Phase IIb trial in 2018. Additionally, AST is developing two cancer vaccines, AST-VAC1 and AST-VAC2, as potential maintenance therapy for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). AST-VAC1, an allogeneic treatment, is currently in Phase II development; while AST-VAC2, an autologous treatment, is slated for a Phase I/II trial that could start in mid-2017. Should the lead asset, AST-OPC1 become successful as a potential SCI treatment, we believe the drug has the potential to dominate the more severe SCI treatment market, which so far does not have any approved drug.