American biotech company Inotek Pharmaceuticals is having a rough start to the New Year. A new test found that Inotek's latest drug, trabodenoson, showed no greater efficacy than a placebo. After news of Inotek's test results came in, shares of the company's stock fell by around 71 percent in one day.
Trabodenoson was designed to reduce the eye pressure in glaucoma patients. If this test was found to be successful, trabodenoson would've been one of the first new successful drugs specifically designed for glaucoma patients to be released since the 1990s.
Glaucoma is a leading eye disease that affects the nerve connecting the eyes to the brain. Most often glaucoma is first detected due to heightened pressure levels within the eye. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, this disease can be controlled if caught early enough. Most common treatment strategies include eye drops, surgery, and various medications. There are currently around 200,000 glaucoma patients in the USA.
Inotek's study took place over three months and looked at three different dose levels of trabodenoson. These tests were compared against a placebo eye drop. Key data was collected on the 28th, 42nd, and 84th day of the trial.
Even at higher doses later in the trial, trabodenoson was only slightly better than the placebo. Inotek's staff said that their mid-range data of trabodenoson led them to believe the placebo effect would be lower than it actually turned out to be.
Many big name investment firms quickly downgraded Inotek's stock after hearing about this trail failure. Piper Jaffray's employees said it would be extremely difficult for this company to comeback after such a disastrous blow.
There will be some more information released on trabodenoson later this quarter. Inotek executives said they will announce their future plans after analyzing this this data.
Inotek's research is focused primarily on the trabecular meshwork in the eyes. This network is a main drain that helps fluids naturally flow through the eyes. The researchers at Inotek believe developing chemicals that can effectively communicate with the trabecular network is key to reducing the eyes' overall pressure.
The main eye drop on the market for controlling eye pressure is officially called Xalatan and was developed by Pfizer in 1996. This drug is more commonly known as latanoprost.
In addition to the trabodenoson solution, Inotek is also working on a trabodenoson and latanoprost mix. Some investors believe Inotek will focus primarily on this chemical combination if the final findings from the trabodenoson study prove even more embarrassing.
Inotek is by no means the only biotech company interested in finding better solutions to eye pressure control. Just a few other companies actively pursuing eye pressure solutions include Aerie Pharmaceuticals and Ocular Therapeutix.
Interestingly, Ocular Therapeutix is developing a device that glaucoma patients can insert directly into their eyes in order to reduce pressure. This device is currently in mid-stage development.
Inotek is now listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol ITEK. The stock was trading around $6.10 on December 30th, but it fell to $1.75 on January 1st.
Inotek Pharmaceuticals was founded in 1999 and is currently headquartered in Lexington, Massachusetts. The Inotek team has mainly been interested in finding new ways to reduce eye pressure in glaucoma patients.