BTIG starts Athira Pharma at buy; PT $33

Athira Pharma

BTIG launched coverage of Athira Pharma (NASDAQ:ATHA) with a “buy” rating and $33 price target. The stock closed at $8.84 on May 9.

Athira is developing fosgonimeton for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, pervasive developmental disorders, dementia with Lewy bodies and depression. Fosgonimeton is a small molecule activator of the HGF ligand of the c-MET receptor pathway – a pathway broadly implicated in synaptic health, writes analyst Thomas Shrader, Ph.D. 

“Importantly, this pathway is down-regulated in multiple neurodegenerative diseases with Alzheimer’s disease likely the best-studied example,” Dr. Shrader said. As a result, fosgonimeton should be considered a “pseudo-replacement therapy, a relatively low bar in drug development.” 

Dr. Shrader said data to date are biomarker-driven, with qEEG signals principally being used to establish target engagement and dosing. P300, a validated biomarker of conductive latency, has shown “compelling changes that suggest the drug will be meaningfully active in AD treatment.” 

Although the human clinical experience to date is small, with seven treated patients, “every patient has shown directional improvement in the P300 latency readout. This 100% response rate is the strongest underpinning of our buy rating,” Dr. Shrader said.

The next clinical readout for fosgonimeton is expected in the next few months. “Our expectations are trends in placebo-controlled cognitive function and repetition of the result that treated patients improve on the P300 score,” he added.