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For Neurotrope, ‘not a lot of hope’

May 2, 2017

Neurotrope Inc (NASDAQ: NTRP) announced “positive topline results” for its leading Alzheimer’s drug in a Monday press release, but investors weren’t fooled.

“The study failed,” Adam Feuerstein, biotech reporter at The Street, said Monday on Benzinga’s Pre Market Prep radio show. “That’s the headline here. The study failed.”

The results of the Phase 2 trial of Bryostatin-1 (0.07) fell short of the industry’s accepted standard (0.05) — and that was after the firm adjusted its data. Neurotrope threw out a portion of its patients to examine a mere subgroup, still with statistically insignificant cognitive improvements.

The fact that the company only discussed lower-dose results and excluded those of larger-dose trials only compounded the Street’s negative reaction to the study, as traders interpreted the higher dose as a complete failure.

Future of Neurotrope

Feuerstein said the company will likely press ahead, sustained by the public’s sentiment toward Alzheimer’s and commitment to a cure. However, it’s equally likely to continue pumping negative news.

“That’s the history of Alzheimer’s — drugs that don’t really work just get moved into larger trials, and then those don’t really work,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, a lot of money spent on these clinical trials, but so far we haven’t seen anything that’s very clinically effective.”

The company will attempt to raise money to move forward, possibly through partnerships with larger pharmaceuticals, but Feuerstein isn’t hopeful. Neutrotrope’s unique approach to Alzheimer’s can be viewed as either daring or foolish, considering that the likes of Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) rejected its pursuit.

“This drug tries to attack Alzheimer’s in a different way than most companies have tried to do it and that could be interesting if it worked, but it’s probably more of a red flag that most of the companies with much deeper benches in the science and in Alzheimer’s really have not seen this kind of mechanism very promising,” Feuerstein said. “So it’s gonna be hard to imagine that you’ll see a partnership coming out of this thing.”

A Good Trade?

Not necessarily. Most of the momentum behind Neurotrope’s stock has been generated by trader board promotions and generally unfounded excitement.

“If you looked at the science and looked at it at a very fundamental perspective, there really wasn’t a lot of hope here, and I think reality is sort of hitting the stock today,” Feuerstein said. “It’s a good trading opportunity because the volatility is nice, but long term, I don’t think that changes the fundamental view of the company.”

Instead, he suggested watching Biogen Inc (NASDAQ: BIIB) as the next company with large Phase 3 clinical studies in the Alzheimer’s space. Its results are due in 2019 or 2020.

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