Pharma stock under pressure: Viela Bio Inc (NASDAQ: VIE)

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Viela Bio Inc (NASDAQ: VIE), a clinical-stage biotechnology company engaged in the research and development of treatments for severe inflammation and autoimmune diseases, stock fell 2.78% on 13th May, 2020 (Source: Google finance) after the company in the first quarter of FY 20 has reported the net loss of $40.8 million, compared to a net loss of $21.0 million for the first quarter of 2019. At the end of March, 2020, Viela had $335.2 million in cash, cash equivalents, and investments and no outstanding debt. Viela has received $30.0 million in cash for the upfront licensing fee from Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation in the first quarter of 2020. The company expects that its cash, cash equivalents and investments will fund its operating plans into mid-year 2022.

Moreover, the company has incurred the total operating expenses for the first quarter of 2020 of $42.1 million, compared to $21.7 million for the first quarter of 2019. The company’s Research and development expenses were of $26.8 million for the first quarter of 2020, including $1.6 million of non-cash stock-based compensation expenses.

Additionally, the company has dosed the first patient at the end of 2019 in a Phase 2b trial of VIB4920 for the treatment of Sjögren’s syndrome. Due to COVID-19, the Company has voluntarily paused enrollment in its Phase 2 trial in patients with kidney transplant rejection. In addition, VIE has submitted two Investigational New Drug (IND) applications to the FDA to begin human studies of inebilizumab in myasthenia gravis and IgG4-related disease, and plans to start Phase 3 pivotal and Phase 2b trials, respectively, in mid-year 2020.

Meanwhile, the company has announced positive interim Phase 1b data from a study with VIB7734, which is its novel anti-ILT7 therapy, in patients with cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE). VIB7734 was designed to deplete plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), which represents an important source of inflammatory mediators in autoimmune diseases. This trial included three cohorts of patients at ascending dose levels. Cohorts 2 and 3 enrolled patients with CLE. The skin biopsy results measuring pDCs and interferon related biomarkers before and after treatment as well as the CLASI scores has indicated clinically meaningful change from baseline in all three measurements when compared to placebo. The safety profile and depletion of pDCs in peripheral blood were according to the Phase 1a trial. On the back of these encouraging results, the company plans to advance the program into several Phase 2 clinical studies in indications with high unmet need that are thought to be driven by pDCs.

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