Maxim Group initiated coverage of Protagenic Therapeutics (NASDAQ:PTIX) with a “buy” rating and price target of $4. The stock closed at $1.80 on Oct. 28.
Protagenic is developing its lead asset, PT00114, for the treatment of stress-related mental health disorders, including major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorder.
Analyst Jason McCarthy, Ph.D., said PT00114 is a synthetic analog of TCAP-1, a naturally occurring neuropeptide that modulates stress-related behaviors via restoration of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.
“An altered HPA axis causes cortisol levels to rise, which results in anxiety and depressive-like behaviors,” he said. “As such, PT00114 is a differentiated therapy that addresses the underlying pathophysiology.”
Dr. McCarthy said the novel mechanism of action of PT00114 has been supported by earlier preclinical findings of efficacy in animal models of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction. The therapeutic effects were also long-lasting, which has the potential to be beneficial for indications that are chronic.
The next step is to initiate a Phase 1/2a study with a basket trial design in the first quarter of 2022, with interim data expected in the second half of 2022.