TICKERS: RXII

RXi Pharmaceuticals Expands Collaboration with Norwegian Cancer Firm; Gears Up for 2017 Milestones

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The potential of RXi Pharmaceuticals' sd-rxRNA technology in the development of cancer immunotherapies has resulted in an extension of its research collaboration with Oslo-based PCI Biotech and captured the attention of two analysts.

The extension of the collaboration between RXi Pharmaceuticals Corp. (RXII:NASDAQ) and PCI Biotech AS (PCIB:OSE), initiated in April 2015, was announced on May 22. Commenting on the agreement, Dr. Per Walday, CEO of PCI Biotech, said, "Our collaboration with RXi has been most fruitful and demonstrated a clear positive technological synergy that could realise significant value when applied to the emerging field of immuno-oncology."

"In the immuno-oncology space, where everybody talks about potency and safety of combinations, this continued and more focused collaboration could advance this therapeutic area significantly," Dr. Geert Cauwenbergh, RXi's president and CEO, stated in the company press release.

In a May 22 note, Marcel Wijma of Van Leeuwenhoeck Research commented that the collaboration strengthens RXi's position in the field of cancer research.

"The PCI technology works by inducing triggered endosomal release and may be used to unlock the true therapeutic potential of a wide array of modalities, such as small molecules, ADCs and siRNA. Two programs are currently in clinical development in patient populations with a high unmet medical need; recurrent head and neck cancer (phase II) and bile duct cancer (phase I/II)," Wijma wrote. "We have increased our valuation on RXi Pharmaceuticals to USD 100-125 million or USD 4.50-5.50 per share from USD 75-100 million or USD 3.50-4.50 per share due to the fact that we have increased our LOA and market potential for RXi's lead product RXI-109."

Wijma expects the company will reach a number of milestones over the next year that could propel its stock price upward, including providing data on multiple checkpoint-inhibiting sd-rxRNA compounds "cotransfected in CAR T-cells in mouse models for ovarian cancer," preclinical results on "use of sd-rxRNA with TILs in melanoma," final data readout in a Phase 2 study of lead compound RXI-109 in hypertrophic scarring, data readout and "possible out-licensing" in a Phase 2 study of Samcyprone for the treatment of cutaneous warts and, in 2018, the entrance of one of its sd-rxRNA checkpoint inhibitors into clinical development.

In a May 4 research report, Keith Markey of Griffin Securities outlined the potential for RXi moving forward. "RXi added a multi-faceted oncology platform to its R&D pipeline with the January acquisition of MirImmune," Markey wrote.

"The addition of checkpoint inhibitors to the R&D pipeline places RXi in one of the hottest areas of scientific research today." Markey noted. "Six self-delivering siRNAs (sd-rxRNAs) have been created to enhance the safety and/or effectiveness of cellular immunotherapies and vaccines."

Commenting on the "important results" the company expects to release this year, "We note that the formulations of RXI-109 for ocular indications should appeal to pharmaceutical companies specializing in ophthalmic medicines, while the dermal products RXI-109 and Samcyprone may attract the interest of a dermatology specialty company. On the other hand, RXI-231 and RXI-185 were designed as active ingredients for cosmetics and as such, data demonstrating their safety and activity in human testing should suffice in securing a deal(s)."

With regard to the immunotherapeutic side of RXi's business, Markey noted, "We believe RXi's checkpoint inhibitors offer an attractive, cost-effective mechanism to improve cellular immunotherapies and cancer vaccines in a value-based healthcare environment."

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