Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ICPT), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of novel therapeutics to treat non-viral, progressive liver diseases, today announced a new research initiative with the University of Pennsylvania’s PennCHOP Microbiome Program, a collaboration between the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to evaluate the effects of obeticholic acid (OCA) and other product candidates on the microbiome in a variety of chronic liver diseases, beginning with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

PennCHOP will analyze samples from Intercept’s ongoing international Phase 3 REGENERATE trial in NASH patients with fibrosis and evaluate how OCA influences the composition and activity of the resident microbiota in the gastrointestinal tract. Analyses of additional patient samples in other diseases are expected to follow as part of the seven-year collaboration. Financial details of the collaboration will not be disclosed.

“This collaboration with Intercept, which gives us access to patient samples and data from the largest NASH clinical program to date, is anticipated to provide new insights into the relationship between gut microbiota, NASH and a modified bile acid like OCA,” said Gary Wu, M.D., the Ferdinand G. Weisbrod Professor in Gastroenterology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and co-director of the PennCHOP Microbiome Program. “It also opens the door to future research in diseases such as primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cholangitis.”

Data from both animal and human studies have demonstrated that changes in the gut microbiome can be an important factor leading to the development and progression of liver disease,1 and it has been hypothesized that restoring a healthier microbiome may reverse or improve a disease state. A recent study2 in cirrhotic animals showed that OCA treatment modified the distinctive mucosal microbiota of cirrhosis to one associated with less severe disease. In addition, OCA treated animals showed inhibition of bacterial translocation from the ileum, normalized intestinal permeability and reduced inflammation of the lymph nodes and spleen.

“The PennCHOP program is at the forefront of microbiome research, and we are looking forward to collaborating with Penn on this important project,” said David Shapiro, M.D., Intercept’s Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President, Development. “This is an exciting area of emerging research and we are committed to determining how OCA’s interaction with the gut-liver axis may help patients with NASH and other non-viral liver diseases.” (Original Source)

Shares of Intercept Pharmaceuticals closed yesterday at $115.39, down $-5.51 or -4.56%. ICPT has a 1-year high of $314.88 and a 1-year low of $89.76. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $112.68 and its 200-day moving average is $152.38.

On the ratings front, Intercept has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on March 7, Cowen analyst Ritu Baral reiterated a Buy rating on ICPT, with a price target of $212, which represents a potential upside of 83.7% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on February 24, Citigroup’s Joel Beatty maintained a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $275.

According to, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Ritu Baral and Joel Beatty have a total average return of 3.3% and -22.2% respectively. Baral has a success rate of 36.6% and is ranked #720 out of 3717 analysts, while Beatty has a success rate of 18.2% and is ranked #3468.

The street is mostly Bullish on ICPT stock. Out of 7 analysts who cover the stock, 5 suggest a Buy rating and 2 recommend to Hold the stock. The 12-month average price target assigned to the stock is $270.67, which implies an upside of 134.6% from current levels.

Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc is a biopharmaceutical company. The Company is engaged in the development and commercialization of novel therapeutics to treat chronic liver disease utilizing its proprietary bile acid chemistry.