September 28, 2023
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Arcutis ends phase 2 trials on potential skin treatment


Shares of Westlake Village-based Arcutis Biotherapeutics dropped by as much as 5% during the trading day July 1, after the biotech company terminated phase 2 trials for a potential treatment.

Arcutis, a biotech company focused on creating dermatology treatments, has announced July that it had terminated phase 2a and 2b trials for evaluating ARQ-252, a topical small molecule potential treatment for chronic hand eczema and vitiligo, which is a loss of skin pigment.

Arcutis’ stock closed at $27.29 on June 30 and was down as low as $25.71 during the trading day on July 1. The stock ultimately closed at $26.50 on July 1, down 2.8% from the previous day.

According to the company, ARQ-252’s phase 2b study on treating chronic hand eczema did not meet its primary endpoint, with none of the arms of the trial achieving statistically significant results.

The study showed that “inadequate local drug delivery to the skin” was the key driver in the lack of efficacy, Arcutis said.

“While we are disappointed to terminate this vitiligo study, we believe topical JAK inhibition remains a promising strategy for the treatment of both chronic hand eczema and vitiligo, and that ARQ-252 has potential as a new treatment for both diseases,” Patrick Burnett, chief medical officer at Arcutis, said in a news release.

Burnett also said in the press release that ARQ-252 continues to show promise as a potential treatment for other treatments. This is because the active ingredient, SHR0302,  is a potent and selective JAK1 inhibitor that has “demonstrated efficacy and safety,” Burnett said

Inhibition of the JAK1 pathway has been shown to treat a range of inflammatory diseases, according to Arcutis, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and atopic dermatitis.

“We have already made good progress in reformulating ARQ-252 to potentially deliver much more active drug to targets in the skin and hope to re-enter the clinic with this reformulated version in the not-too-distant future,” Burnett said.

Arcutis shares are down about 6% since the start of 2021. In its latest earnings report, Arcutis disclosed a loss of $36 million in the first quarter of 2021, but had strong liquidity, with more than $440 million in assets.

The company also said it is planning to submit its topical roflumilast cream to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a potential treatment for plaque psoriasis in the second half of 2021.  Arcutis aims to advance topical roflumilast creams for atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, and scalp psoriasis into phase 3 during 2021 as well.