VBL Therapeutics tanks after clinical trial failure

Ovaries model  credit: Shutterstock
Ovaries model credit: Shutterstock

The trial of VBL's ofra-vec treatment for ovarian cancer did not meet any of its primary endpoints.

VBL Therapeutics (Vascular Biogenics) (Nasdaq: VBLT) has announced that the Phase 3 clinical trial of its ofra-vec treatment for ovarian cancer did not meet its primary endpoints. No significant difference was observed between the treatment group and the control group, neither in the amount of time that the growth continued to develop, nor in overall survival.

Before the announcement, VBL had a market cap of $142 million. Following it, the company’s share price plunged 78% in late trading.

VBL Therapeutics CEO Prof. Dror Harats said, "Given the urgent unmet need for those fighting platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, we are deeply disappointed that the top-line data indicate that ofra-vec did not improve progression free survival or overall survival.

"Based on this outcome, we plan to discontinue the OVAL trial and will review the data from our ongoing Phase 2 trials in metastatic colorectal cancer and recurrent glioblastoma multiforme to determine next steps with the ofra-vec program. We extend our deepest gratitude to all the patients, families and healthcare professionals who participated in this trial."

The company has another technology under development, for treating inflammatory diseases. This product is due to reach the human clinical trials stage in the final quarter of 2022, that is to say, within the next few months. The company says that it has sufficient cash for a year of trials.

VBL was founded in 2000 by Harats, a doctor at Sheba Medical Center, who developed the company’s products. From the beginning, the company worked in two directions at once: an anti-inflammatory product, and a cancer treatment. It recorded failure in a clinical trial in 2018 on brain cancer, but analysis of the results persuaded the company that it was nevertheless worthwhile pursuing this direction, with a slightly different approach.

Even before this, VBL decided to abandon development of anti-inflammatory drugs for treating heart disease, despite the amount it had invested in it, when the requirements for developing products in this area became prohibitive for a small company.

The company has in the past recovered from what looked like a critical blow. In 2014, its IPO was priced, but between pricing and closing one of the anchor investors dropped out - a very rare occurrence. VBL did not give up, and embarked on a new offering despite the damage to its image, and in late 2014 succeeded in completing its IPO at a valuation of $120 million. It had originally sought a valuation of NIS 220 million, but at least it succeeded in becoming listed on Nasdaq just before the offerings window at that time shut.

Since then, VBL has exploited its status as a traded company to carry out several capital raising rounds, bringing in $100 million. It has raised a total of $200 million since it was founded.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on July 20, 2022.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.

Ovaries model  credit: Shutterstock
Ovaries model credit: Shutterstock
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