Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ACHN) is a biopharmaceutical company that focuses on development and commercialization of treatments for infectious diseases. The company has four potential drug candidates in its pipeline in phases 1 and 2 of clinical trials. The stock has been bullish since June this year when the company announced it has begun administrating doses of ACH 3422 to treat patients with genotype 1 chronic Hepatitis C viral infection (HCV). The stock of the company jumped 170% after the announcement and has continued to surge as. ACH 3422 is currently undergoing phase 1 clinical trials, and the trial results are expected to be reported by the end of the year.
Achillion’s four drug candidates are all part of its proprietary hepatitis C inhibitor program. The proteins of HCV are structured in a specific order: nonstructural protein 2 (NS2)–NS3–NS4A–NS4B–NS5A–NS5B–C-terminal. Each of the inhibitors developed by Achillion is designed to target a different protein in the structure of the virus.
ACH 3422, for example, is an NS5B enzyme inhibitor, and if the proof of concept will be successful, ACH 3422 will be the first all-oral compound designed to inhibit hepatitis C NS5B. Other investigational compounds include ACH-2684 that is undergoing phase 1 clinical trials,
ACH 3102 and Sovaprevir which are currently in phase 2 clinical trials.
On November 8th, the company has presented positive updated information about the progress of a combined phase 2 studies of ACH 3102 and Sovaprevir, the stock surged additional 35 plus percent since then. The primary goal of the study is to determine the sustained viral response 12 weeks (SVR12) after the completion of therapy. According to data, all 12 patients treated achieved SVR12. The complete results of this combined study are expected to be released in the first half 2015.
The Hepatitis C virus is the most common cause of inflammation of the liver; it is a leading cause of liver transplantation in the United States. The current estimates are that approximately 150 million people are infected with HCV worldwide and more than 5 million people in the United States. Three-fourths of HCV carriers either remain undiagnosed or not recognized until the disease is in its chronic stages. Hepatitis C is considered to be a silent epidemic.
The company currently has only $110 thousand of debt and $126.62 million cash. The last time the company has raised long term debt was in 2013, yet, with the current average $13 million cash burn rate a quarter, Achillion has enough cash to fund their operations at least until the current phase 2 trial will end.
Earlier this June, Merck (NYSE: MRK) has acquiring Idenix for $3.85 billion. Idenix was a small biopharmaceutical company very similar to Achillion and was also focused on the discovery and development of drugs for the treatment of HCV. From the four proteins of HCV mentioned above only NS5B has a high barrier to resistance. Achillion’s work on ACH 3422, the NS5B inhibitor, and the results that will be published from the phase 1 clinical trials by the end of the year could be the milestone that will put the company in a potential acquisition position by a big Parma like Merck.
Stay tuned for more information on Achillion’s developments and trial results.
About Achillion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ACHN):
Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of treatments for infectious diseases. The Company is engaged in the development of antivirals for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C infection (HCV), and the development of antibacterials for the treatment of resistant bacterial infections.