Dispelling Certain Aurinia ($AUPH) Rumors

By DrKSSMDPhD, December 21, 2017


[Ed. Note: Dr. KSS is our biotech and medical maven, who writes for the Irregulars. He has agreed to our trading restrictions, chooses is own topics, and his words and opinions are his own. You can find all of his previous articles and most recent comments on his Stock Gumshoe page.]

Although the drive to short shares of $AUPH appears to be slackening during these Christmas weeks, many readers are vexed by how $AUPH is trading at considerably less than they’d expected with a SPA-premised phase 3 voclosporin trial underway internationally for lupus nephritis.

A reader noted today in the threads that the following has appeared at the behest of investor group Seaport Global.

“Summary: On December 18, we accompanied AUPH management during nondeal roadshow (NDR) meetings with investors where the company highlighted the advantages of its lead asset, voclosporin (VCS), which is in Phase III study in lupus nephritis (LN). Specifically, whereas other investigational treatments previously studied in LN have side effects that can limit their long-term use, VCS strikes a unique balance between high potency and safety. In addition, with its novel ability to stabilize the conformation of kidney podocytes, which help form the filtration barrier in the kidney but are leaky in LN, VCS has potential disease-modifying activity. We think AUPH stock has suffered from negative perceptions about AUPH’s cash reserves and misconceptions about the AURORA Phase III trial with VCS, which is on track to complete enrollment of 265 LN patients in 2H:18. We believe AUPH’s $182MM in cash as of September 30, is sufficient to fund its clinical programs through 2020. Therefore, we look at AUPH stock as an attractive buying opportunity and reiterate our Buy rating and $10 price target.

VCS is a very differentiated CNI. We remind investors that VCS is a calcineurin inhibitor (CNI), which is a class of drugs that includes cyclosporine A (CsA) and tacrolimus. Although these CNIs showed efficacy in LN, with its better lipid profile, benign drug interactions with MMF (current LN standard of care), better glucose profile, favorable toxicity profile, as well as better potency, VCS is set apart from other CNIs.

VCS has potential to directly modify LN progression. Podocytes are normally flat cells in the Bowman’s capsule, a structure in the nephron wrapped around the capillaries of the glomerulus that filters blood. In LN, podocytes are rounded, creating spaces that allow blood proteins ...

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