HCW starts Proteon Therapeutics at buy

H.C. Wainwright has initiated coverage of Proteon Therapeutics (NASDAQ:PRTO) with a ‘buy” rating and $18 price target. The stock closed at $8.75 on Wednesday.

Proteon is developing a novel therapy to help prolong vascular access patency for dialysis patients. The company’s lead product, vonapanitase, is a recombinant human elastase used during vascular surgery.

Proteon is conducting two registration-directed Phase 3 studies, PATENCY-1 and PATENCY-2, investigating the use of vonapanitase to improve patency rates of arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs), the most preferred type of vascular access. While there are numerous devices available to assist to create or salvage access, there are no drugs approved to prolong access patency.

“If successful, we believe vonapanitase could become a revolutionary treatment for dialysis patients and become a new standard of care in this multi-billion dollar market,” writes analyst Swayampakula Ramakanth, who expects vonapanitase to reach the market in 2019.

Final results from the Phase 3 PATENCY 1 study are expected in the fourth quarter this year. PATENCY-1 is a 300-patient study designed to compare treatment using 30 mcg of vonapanitase during AVF surgery with placebo.

Mr. Ramakanth said that if vonapanitase is able to demonstrate a similar level of clinical benefit as in its Phase 2 trial, “we expect there is a high likelihood that it could achieve the primary endpoint of an improvement in 12-month primary unassisted patency. We believe positive results from PATENCY-1 could be a significant catalyst for Proteon’s stock price.”