BTIG starts MEI Pharma at buy; PT $5.50

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BTIG initiated coverage of MEI Pharma (NASDAQ:MEIP) with a “buy” rating and price target of $5.50. The stock closed at $2.96 on Feb. 12.

“MEI Pharma is developing in-licensed drugs that we see as having good chances of success in important [hematological cancers],” writes analyst Thomas Shrader.

“In each case, the company is working with drug candidates with relatively clear efficacy and trying to maximize the patient benefit by minimizing toxicity,” he added.

Mr. Shrader said the company’s ME-401 looks to be a “best in class” drug candidate as a powerful inhibitor of signaling kinase PI3K delta, for the treatment of relapsed/refractory follicular lymphoma. “Data to date look impressive, making safety the key readout,” he added.

The company’s voruciclib drug candidate is an interesting wild card, Mr. Shrader said. “This CDK inhibitor is designed to modulate the expression of important regulatory genes, including MCL1 and MYC. If the safety profile is decent, we expect this drug could be rapidly partnered.”

MEI Pharma also is developing pracinostat for acute myeloid leukemia with support from Swiss-based Helsinn. The drug candidate has breakthrough designation from the FDA and “looks like a valuable asset,” Mr. Shrader said. Phase 2 efficacy data were “exciting and [the] safety profile looked reasonable,” he added.

Stephen Kilmer