Institutions Buying MEI Pharma Ahead Of Topline Data Catalyst In Mid-March

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MEI Pharma (NASDAQ:MEIP) is an oncology company focused on the clinical development of novel therapies for cancer. There are upcoming catalysts for MEI that likely will create some wild swings.

Its lead drug candidate, Pracinostat, is an orally available histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor that is being developed for advanced hematologic diseases such as myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). HDACs belong to a larger set of proteins collectively known as epigenetic regulators that can alter gene expression by chemically modifying DNA or its associated chromosomal proteins. Abnormal activity of these regulators is believed to play an important role in cancer and other diseases.

MEI will be busy this year. Coming up in March, the company is scheduled to release top-line data from Phase II study in frontline MDS. Full top-line data from Phase II studies in frontline MDS & AML is to be completed in June. Finally, initiation of a Phase III study in frontline elderly AML is also expected to finalize in June. With little advancements in recent years for these forms of cancer, MEI has a nice opportunity if it is able to show strong progress and results this year.

Upcoming data catalyst

The March near-term catalyst is a topline multi-center, placebo controlled, and double blinded Phase II data release for its lead investigational drug candidate Pracinostat in combination with Celgene's (NASDAQ:CELG) azacitidine (Vidaza) in patients with previously untreated intermediate-2 or high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome -- this study is known as the MEI -003 study.

This data is important as the data release will highlight the complete response (CR) of patients in the drug arm of the trial and compare against the placebo arm. Historical CR for Vidaza in MDS has varied from 7-23%.  CR measures how many patients are basically cancer free after the treatment phase is completed.

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Disclosure: Long MEIP.

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