CTI BioPharma Corp (NASDAQ:CTIC) announced findings from an investigator-sponsored preclinical study indicating that pacritinib, an inhibitor of JAK2, FLT3, IRAK1 and CSF1R, may be effective in reducing survival of myelofibrosis and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) repopulating cells. Further, this study also demonstrated that the combination of pacritinib at low nanomolar concentrations with dasatinib may eliminate self-renewing leukemia stem cells in blast crisis of chronic myeloid leukemia(CML) with minimal toxicity toward normal progenitors. In myeloid leukemias, these leukemic stem cells can evade initial treatment and hide within the bone marrow microenvironment, develop resistance to current therapies, self-renew and eventually cause relapse.

These findings were presented by Larissa Balaian, Ph.D. from the Moores Cancer Center,University of California San Diego in a poster presentation (abstract #3338) titled: “Pacritinib reduces human myeloid leukemia stem cell maintenance in a defined niche,” during theAmerican Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting held April 16-20 in New Orleans, LA.

“The potential ability for pacritinib to eradicate therapy resistant leukemia stem cells in relapse AML as a single-agent, as well as eliminate self-renewing stem cells in CML, when used in combination with standard of care therapy, demonstrates that targeting niche-dependent signaling with pacritinib could represent a new approach to treating patients with refractory acute myeloid leukemia and blast crisis of CML,” said Dr. Balaian.

Additional data being presented at the meeting include:

A poster (abstract #2602) titled: “The nonclinical toxicology profile of pacritinib, a JAK2/FLT3 inhibitor with no dose-limiting clinical myelosuppression.” In this poster, CTI BioPharmaresearchers presented data from studies of pacrinitib in nonclinical models that were evaluated in comparison to publicly available information for the currently approved JAK inhibitors. The nonclinical toxicology profile findings showed that pacritinib is unique for its mild myelosuppressive effects in the nonclinical studies. Of interest, only pacritinib was not associated with increased opportunistic infections in the long-term toxicology studies.

A poster (abstract #1609) titled: “Investigation of absorption, metabolism, excretion, and mass balance of [14C]-pacritinib in healthy subjects: a phase 1 study.” In this poster, CTI BioPharmaresearchers investigated clearance pathways, excretion, pharmacokinetics and recovery of pacritinib’s major metabolites in healthy volunteers. Intact pacritinib was minimally excreted in urine and feces while most radioactivity was recovered as metabolites in feces, suggesting extensive biliary clearance and hepatic metabolism of pacritinib. No dose adjustments are anticipated to be required for patients with renal impairment. (Original Source)

Shares of CTI BioPharma are up nearly 7% to $0.58 in pre-market trading. CTIC has a 1-year high of $2.46 and a 1-year low of $0.25. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $0.54 and its 200-day moving average is $1.01.

On the ratings front, CTI BioPharma has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on February 10, Ladenburg Thalmann analyst Robert Hazlett downgraded CTIC to Hold. Separately, on the same day, Piper Jaffray’s Charles Duncan downgraded the stock to Hold .

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Robert Hazlett and Charles Duncan have a total average return of -10.3% and -4.1% respectively. Hazlett has a success rate of 30.8% and is ranked #3340 out of 3812 analysts, while Duncan has a success rate of 40.6% and is ranked #3418.

CTI BioPharma Corp. operates as a biopharmaceutical company, which is focused on the acquisition, development, and commercialization novel targeted therapies covering a spectrum of blood-related cancers. Its products include Pixuvri, Pacritinib, Tosedostat and Opaxio. The company was founded by James A. Bianco, Jack W. Singer and Louis A. Bianco in September 1991 and is headquartered in Seattle, WA.