Evgen Pharma PLC (LON:EVG) Chief Executive Officer Dr Stephen Franklin caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss their final results for year-ended 31st March 2017
Q1: Now Stephen, could you remind our listeners who Evgen Pharma are and what’s in the development pipeline at the moment?
A1: Yes, of course. Evgen Pharma is a capital-efficient clinical stage drug company and we’re focussed on the development of novel medicines based upon a molecule called sulforaphane. Now, sulforaphane, a molecule of botanical origin, is an established anti-cancer agent and a neuroprotectant but it’s never been viable to commercialise it due to its inherent stability. So, what we’ve done at Evgen Pharma is find a proprietary way of chemically synthesising and concurrently stabilising sulforaphane in a new patented composition and that product we call SFX-01 so that’s our lead product.
Now, SFX-01 is a promising therapy for a number of oncology and neurology indications so in oncology, our initial target is metastatic breast cancer with SFX-01 having the potential to enhance the efficacy of, and delay the resistance to, the mainstay treatment which is hormone therapy. In neurology, we’ve got an interest in a relatively rare type of stroke called subarachnoid haemorrhage and this condition we’re aiming to show that SFX-01 reduces the brain damage associated with the delayed ischemia that follows several days after the initial bleed. So, our hope there is that SFX-01 will enable patients to more fully recover from their stroke helping to maintain cognitive functions such as speech and movement.
Q2: You announced your preliminary year-end results this morning, can you talk us through the main highlights there?
A2: So, in terms of the finance, the performance is bang in line with expectation, we’re reporting a loss of £3.1 million which is the same as the previous year and our cash position at year-end is down to £3.9 million versus £7.1 million at the same time last year. The main news from the period is that both Phase II trial, in those 2 areas that I’ve just described, have started and are recruiting, the trial is subarachnoid haemorrhage, we call SAS which stands for SFX-01 After Subarachnoid Haemorrhage, and the other is called STEM, SFX-01 in the Treatment and Evaluation of Metastatic Breast Cancer. Both are Phase II studies and we’re particularly delighted that in the breast cancer trial we’ve had to set up what’s called a compassionate use programme because the very first patient that went into that trial has responded favourable so 24 weeks on, we continue to make the medication available to that lady so that’s very encouraging.
Q3: So, when do the current clinical trials report and what else can we expect in terms of news flow between now and then?
A3: So, the SAS trial is currently projected to read-out at the end of the 2018 calendar year and STEM trial has got a bit of a broader window so we’re estimating a read-out in the second half of 2018 calendar year. The good news is that as STEM is an open label trial, i.e. it’s not blinded, we’ve got the ability to issue an interim read-out which we will do at the mid-way point, I’m sure that will help with news flow as well.
Clearly, the Phase II read-outs are the materially price-sensitive information that we understand the market will be expectant upon however, we have a number of other initiatives ongoing that provide news flow in the interim, So, news will come from our initial screening of over 40 new compounds, based on sulforaphane, in additional we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to announce a number of pre-clinical and clinical collaborations associated with using SFX-01 in a number of new disease areas and the interesting thing here is that some of these programmes have the potential to attract non-dilutive grant funding.
So, overall, we’re very pleased with the strong progress that I think we’ve made and remain enthusiastic and positive about the future.