It’s been a tough year for Cleveland BioLabs, but its top executive still has faith in the drugs the Buffalo company is developing.
Its efforts to develop a promising anti-radiation sickness drug, Entolimod, have been slowed by the refusal in January of the Defense Department to fund the final studies needed to allow it to be stockpiled for use in an emergency, such as a terrorist attack or nuclear power plant accident.
Because the anti-radiation sickness drug was the closest to being able to generate revenues, the Buffalo drug development company’s stock has lost two-thirds of its value over the past year and now trades at 50 cents – a far cry from the $8.40 price it commanded in March 2011.
Yet Yakov Kogan, Cleveland BioLabs’ chief executive officer, told shareholders Wednesday that he remains confident that Entolimod and a handful of cancer drugs the company is developing eventually will pay off for the company.
The company’s focus is on advancing its ongoing clinical trials for the drugs, with the hope that they will yield promising results that will solidify the scientific underpinnings of those drugs as potential treatments, especially for various types of cancer.
“We have developed several clinical drug candidates ... that have demonstrated clinical results that are superb,” Kogan said.
“All of our activities are dedicated to generating clinical data for our oncology and biomedical products,” he said. “We believe we may have the ingredients for meaningful improvement” in the treatment of cancer patients, not just extending their lives for three or four months.
The company also is willing to take on partners to help it advance the development of each of its drugs, Kogan said.
But Entolimod’s use as a treatment for radiation sickness remains the company’s best hope to turn one of its drugs into a revenue producer.
Whether that happens anytime soon likely will hinge on a key meeting with federal regulators in July on the potential stockpiling of its Entolimod drug for emergency use. The meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will discuss using a process, known as a Pre-Emergency Use Authorization, that could allow the government to stockpile unlicensed drugs and could turn Entolimod into a source of revenue for Cleveland BioLabs.
Until then, however, Cleveland BioLabs has been cutting its costs in an effort to preserve its cash. The company cut its operating loss by 53 percent to $3.5 million during the first quarter, slashing its research and development spending by 54 percent by shifting some of its personnel to an affiliated company and narrowing its research focus.