ResTORbio Pins “Strategic Alternatives” Pitch to Parkinson’s Promise

Xconomy Boston — 

Three months after resTORbio’s lead drug failed a pivotal test treating lung infections in the elderly, the company is now looking for someone to buy the firm or strike a deal for its technology.

In a corporate update issued Wednesday, resTORbio (NASDAQ: TORC) says it has started a process to evaluate “partnerships, acquisitions, mergers, and other financial and strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value.” JMP Securities has been hired as an advisor for this strategic review, which has no timeline. ResTORbio added that it won’t comment while the review is underway.

Cambridge, MA-based resTORbio develops drugs to address diseases of aging by blocking an enzyme called TORC1. In animal studies, this approach has prolonged lifespan, enhanced immune system function, and remedied heart failure, among other benefits, the company says in its securities filings.

The first disease target for lead drug candidate RTB101 was lung infection in elderly patients, and the company advanced the compound into late-stage testing. But in November, resTORbio announced that the drug failed the first of two Phase 3 tests. Based on the results, the company abandoned plans for further development of the drug for lung infections, but said it would continue earlier-stage work testing the drug in other diseases of aging. Shares of resTORbio plunged more than 87 percent following the announcement.

ResTORbio is now pointing to early clinical trial results for RTB101 in Parkinson’s disease. In an corporate presentation filed Wednesday, the company reported that interim data from a Phase 1b/2a study shows that the drug crosses the blood-brain barrier in Parkinson’s patients. The early results also show that the drug reaches concentrations in cerebrospinsal fluid observed to block TORC1 and induce autophagy, which is the cellular process for breaking down and removing waste and toxic components. The company says this approach could address other neurodegenerative diseases characterized by the accumulation of toxic proteins.

ResTORbio expects to report safety, tolerability, and cerebrospinal fluid exposure data from the study by the middle of this year.

Shares of resTORbio opened at $1.35 apiece, up 2 cents from Tuesday’s closing price.

Image: iStock/Bulat Silvia