Conatus Pharmaceuticals Initiates Phase 2b Trial of Emricasan in Acute-on-Chronic Liver Failure (ACLF) Patients

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| Source: Conatus Pharmaceuticals

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 11, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Conatus Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:CNAT), a biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of novel medicines to treat liver disease, today announced initiation of active patient recruitment in a Phase 2b clinical trial of emricasan in patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). The placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter clinical trial is designed to assess the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of emricasan in patients who have compensated or stable liver cirrhosis and who, at the time of study entry have been hospitalized for at least 24 hours due to acute deterioration of liver function.

"This study marks an important milestone in the development of emricasan and we are excited about the potential of emricasan to address this underserved population in high medical need of an efficacious and well-tolerated therapy to prevent progression to multi-organ failure and, ultimately, premature death," said Dr. Gary C. Burgess, Chief Medical Officer of Conatus.

Conatus plans to use this trial to determine the dose of emricasan to be studied in the planned Phase 3 trial in ACLF. Safety of emricasan in the patient population will be evaluated, and key biomarkers and clinical outcomes will also be explored. The Phase 2b trial is being conducted at approximately 15 centers in the United Kingdom. 

There are currently no approved therapies with a specific indication for the treatment of ACLF, which occurs in patients who have compensated or decompensated cirrhosis but are usually relatively stable. In these patients, some acute event sets off a rapid deterioration of liver function. The cause of this acute episode of decompensation may include toxins, such as alcohol, metabolic abnormalities and infections. The morbidity and mortality of the patient population Conatus plans to study is high, and up to 45% of the patients may die, develop multi-organ failure, or require a liver transplant as a result of the decompensation episode within 28 days of hospitalization. The rapid deterioration in liver function, which may be exacerbated by an altered immune response, leads to life-threatening complications such as renal failure, increased susceptibility to infection, hepatic coma and systemic hemodynamic dysfunction. Liver transplantation is required in some subjects to improve survival and quality of life.

In addition to the Phase 2b trial in patients with ACLF, Conatus expects to initiate its planned Phase 2b/3 clinical trial of emricasan in patients who have developed liver fibrosis post-orthotopic liver transplant due to Hepatitis C virus infection (HCV-POLT) in the second half of 2013. For additional information about emricasan clinical trials, please visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.

About Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Conatus is a biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of novel medicines to treat liver disease. Conatus is developing its lead compound, emricasan, for the treatment of patients in orphan populations with chronic liver disease and acute exacerbations of chronic liver disease. Emricasan is a first-in-class, orally active caspase protease inhibitor designed to reduce the activity of enzymes that mediate inflammation and cell death, or apoptosis. Conatus believes that by reducing the activity of these enzymes, emricasan has the potential to interrupt the progression of liver disease. For additional information, please visit www.conatuspharma.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this press release, including statements regarding enrollment in the Phase 2b ACLF trial, use of the Phase 2b ACLF trial to determine the dose of emricasan to be studied in Conatus' planned Phase 3 trial in ACLF, the potential of emricasan to address high medical need in an underserved population and the timing of Conatus' planned Phase 2b/3 trial in HCV-POLT, are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terms such as "may," "will," "should," "expect," "plan," "anticipate," "could," "intend," "target," "project," "contemplates," "believes," "estimates," "predicts," "potential" or "continue" or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this press release and are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including Conatus' reliance on third parties to conduct its clinical trials, manufacture its preclinical and clinical drug supplies and manufacture commercial supplies of emricasan, if approved; potential adverse side effects or other safety risks associated with emricasan that could delay or preclude its approval; Conatus' ability to fully comply with numerous federal, state and local laws and regulatory requirements applicable to it; and those described in Conatus' prior press releases and the periodic reports it files with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The events and circumstances reflected in Conatus' forward-looking statements may not be achieved or occur and actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Except as required by applicable law, Conatus does not plan to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements contained herein, whether as a result of any new information, future events, changed circumstances or otherwise.

Paul Cox, Stern Investor Relations
(212) 362-1200,