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BIO CEO Company Snapshot: Conatus Pharmaceuticals

January 27, 2014
The Company Snapshots have returned for our next One-on-One Partnering event, the BIO CEO & Investor Conference, taking place in New York City this February. The companies that will be profiled in these snapshots will all be presenting at the event, and we hope this provides the opportunity to learn more about them, and catch up on what’s new.


What is your company’s lead product or technology?

Conatus’s lead product is emricasan, a first-in-class oral medicine designed to reduce inflammation and excessive levels of a specific form of cell death known as apoptosis—two underlying causes of liver damage across a broad spectrum of diseases. Emricasan has been evaluated in over 500 human subjects in six Phase 1 studies completed in healthy volunteers and four randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 2 trials completed in a variety of liver diseases.

How does your company go about differentiating itself from the competition?

Emricasan is a pan-caspase protease inhibitor designed to reduce the activity of all ten human caspases-enzymes that mediate inflammation and apoptosis. Seven caspases are specifically involved in the process of apoptosis while three caspases specifically activate pro-inflammatory cytokines and are not directly involved in apoptosis. We believe that by reducing the activity of these enzymes, emricasan has the potential to interrupt the progression of liver disease regardless of the initial cause. We believe there are no other drugs, either approved or in development, using this mechanism which offers both broad spectrum and self-limiting liver disease activity.

Your company went public last year. What are your company’s goals and priorities for 2014?

Conatus expects top-line results in 1H14 from its ongoing Phase 2b trial in patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF), and is planning a Phase 2 trial to initiate in 1H14 in patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a Phase 2b trial to initiate in 2H14 in patients with chronic liver failure (CLF), and a Phase 2b trial to initiate in 2H14 in patients who developed liver fibrosis post-orthotopic liver transplant due to hepatitis C virus infection (HCV-POLT), who achieved sustained virus response (SVR) to antiviral therapy, but still have underlying liver fibrosis (HCV-POLT-SVR).

Tell us something about your company that investors might not know.

Emricasan was developed initially by the founders of Idun Pharmaceuticals, who sold the company to Pfizer and founded Conatus in 2005. After further development by Pfizer to prepare the drug to advance to Phase 3 trials and commercialization, Conatus reacquired Idun in 2010 and resumed its development independently.