HCW upgrades Galectin to buy

H.C. Wainwright upgraded Galectin Therapeutics (NASDAQ:GALT) to “buy” from “neutral” and raised its price target to $3 from 60 cents, citing a more positive view of the therapeutic potential of the mechanism of galectin-3 inhibition. The stock closed at $1.98 on March 29.

Analyst Ed Arce writes that on a 4Q16 earning's call, Galectin provided an update on the progress of its lead program, the Phase 2b trial of GR-MD-02 in 162 NASH patients with cirrhosis (NASH-CX).

“Given expanded details on the trial design and supportive evidence of clinical activity from recent data in psoriasis and eczema, we have increased confidence in a positive data readout in December,” he added.

Seventy-one patients have completed all 52 weeks of infusions with GR- MD-02 and 155 patients have finished 26 weeks of infusions.

“We expect a clean safety profile for GR-MD-02 on the basis that there has been no drug-related serious adverse events reported in more than 3,400 infusions (or 85% of the total infusions in the trial),” Mr. Arce said.

Only 10 patients (6%) have dropped out of the trial so far, which is substantially below the 25% rate included in the trial design. “This low discontinuation rate reflects high patient satisfaction, likely driven by an exceedingly benign safety and tolerability profile,” he added.

Mr. Arce said positive NASH-CX results would represent an all-important value inflection for Galectin shares.