HCW ups aTyr Pharma to buy; PT $13

H.C. Wainwright upgraded aTyr Pharma (NASDAQ:LIFE) to “buy” from “neutral” with a $13 price target, citing a “positive shift” at the company ahead of anticipated news flow. The stock closed at $3.81 on Aug. 14.

Analyst Joseph Pantginis writes that he downgraded the stock in March 2020 because of a lack of visibility around the company’s lead ATYR1923 program in pulmonary sarcoidosis, which causes small lumps of inflammatory cells, called granulomas, in the lungs. “Things are rapidly changing for aTyr, and we believe it is time to highlight the updates and upcoming news flow at the company,” he added.

Mr. Pantginis said the majority of trial sites for the ATYR1923 Phase 1b/2a in pulmonary sarcoidosis have resumed clinical activity. “We now expect to receive visibility on data timing in the relative near term.” He said the restart of dosing is in the final (third) cohort of patients, which was enrolling prior to the pandemic. 

The Phase 2 trial with ATYR1923 in COVID-19 patients remains ongoing. A data safety monitoring board recently assessed the first five patients and recommended that the study continue. Data from the study are expected in the fourth quarter of 2020, which “we believe should bring significant attention to the shares,” he said. 

In addition, Mr. Pantginis said aTyr’s partner in Japan, Kyorin, recently announced the initiation of a Phase 1 program with ATYR1923 in healthy male volunteers to assess the safety, pharmacokinetics, and immunogenicity of ATYR1923 for interstitial lung disease. “Once data are in hand, we expect Kyorin to move rapidly into a clinical program,” he said.