Mast Therapeutics Inc (NYSEMKT:MSTX), a biopharmaceutical company developing novel, clinical-stage therapies for sickle cell disease and heart failure, today reported that the first patient has been enrolled in a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 2 clinical study of AIR001 in patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). The 100-patient study, known as the Inorganic Nitrite Delivery to Improve Exercise Capacity in HFpEF (INDIE-HFpEF) study, is sponsored by Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) as the Coordinating Center for the Heart Failure Clinical Research Network (HFN) and is being conducted at premier clinical centers that are part of the HFN.

HFpEF is a common form of heart failure. Earlier this year, the Company reported positive top-line results from a blinded and randomized Phase 2a clinical study of AIR001 in HFpEF patients as well as positive interim results from an ongoing Phase 2a clinical study of AIR001 in patients with pulmonary hypertension associated with HFpEF.

“AIR001, a sodium nitrite solution administered via inhalation, has potential as an effective treatment for heart failure, and we are pleased that patient enrollment is underway,” stated Brian M. Culley, Mast Therapeutics’ CEO. “This study will advance our efforts to characterize the efficacy of AIR001 for patients who have heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. There are more than 1 million heart failure hospitalizations each year in the U.S., about half of which involve patients with HFpEF. Currently, no proven effective therapeutic agents are available for this large patient population. We look forward to continuing to support DCRI and the HFN on this study.”

The HFN was established by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to expedite clinical research on treatments and strategies to improve the management of acute and chronic heart failure. The HFN’s work is supported by a grant awarded by the NHLBI, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The Company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Aires Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is providing test materials, nebulizers, and regulatory, technical and additional financial support for the INDIE-HFpEF study. The Chair of the HFN Executive Committee is Dr. Eugene Braunwald, Distinguished Hersey Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. (Original Source)

Shares of Mast Therapeutics are up nearly 4% to $0.371 in pre-market trading. MSTX has a 1-year high of $0.60 and a 1-year low of $0.21. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $0.43 and its 200-day moving average is $0.35.

On the ratings front, Mast Therapeutics has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on July 28, Roth Capital analyst Michael Higgins reiterated a Buy rating on MSTX, with a price target of $2, which represents a potential upside of 459.9% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on July 27, Maxim Group’s Jason McCarthy reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $5.

According to, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Michael Higgins and Jason McCarthy have a total average return of -12.7% and -3.3% respectively. Higgins has a success rate of 29.4% and is ranked #3875 out of 4007 analysts, while McCarthy has a success rate of 39.5% and is ranked #3598.

Mast Therapeutics, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company, which engages in developing novel therapies for serious or life-threatening diseases with significant unmet needs. Its lead product MST-188 has cytoprotective and hemorheologic properties and inhibits inflammatory processes and thrombosis.