September 12, 2018 / 10:45 AM / 2 months ago

Vital Therapies shares dive as liver system fails trial

(Reuters) - U.S. biotech firm Vital Therapies Inc said it will explore strategic options after its liver disease treatment failed to meet the main goal of a late-stage study, driving its shares down more than 70 percent on Wednesday.

ELAD, Vital’s cell-based therapy for treating liver failure, did not meet the study’s primary goal of improving survival rates in patients, the company said in a statement.

“In light of these results, the company does not believe the ELAD System can be approved in the United States or European Union, if ever, without additional clinical trials that would require substantial capital and time to complete,” Vital said.

The company will halt ELAD’s further development and explore strategic options, it said, without elaborating.

Broker William Blair estimated last month that ELAD could make global peak sales of $1.5 billion since there are no alternate treatments for severe acute alcoholic hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver.

San Diego-based Vital also failed to achieve its targets in a late-stage trial of ELAD in 2015, losing some three-quarters of its market value at the time.

The company was valued at about $267 million as of Tuesday. Its shares tumbled 73 percent to $1.70 in premarket trading and were headed for an all-time low.

Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar

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