All sickle cell community and investor eyes are on Mast Therapeutics (NYSEMKT:MSTX) this month, as MSTX prepares to roll out pivotal data from its EPIC study for pain crisis-treating pipeline drug vepoloxamer. Maxim analyst Jason McCarthy offers his insight on the biotech firm on the heels of attending its 5th annual Sickle Cell Therapeutics Conference last week in New York City, where he met with patients, physicians, and management.

It is worthy to note that EPIC is considered the largest-ever, placebo-controlled clinical trial in sickle cell, and its primary endpoint evaluates the duration of pain crisis. Periodic episodes of pain are known as crises, which are major afflictions for patients suffering from sickle cell anemia. These patients suffer from crises when sickle-shaped red blood cells block blood flow.

McCarthy comments, “We learned that a reduction in pain crisis duration (the primary endpoint of the EPIC study; 16 hours) — by even just a few hours — would be welcomed by the sickle cell community. But how much is enough for regulators to approve the drug? As it stands now, Mast needs to hit a P-value at 16 hours, but we believe the totality of the data and what constitutes “clinically meaningful” in sickle cell disease will be considered by regulators.”

Based on trial design, McCarthy currently has a positive skew and allows room for other possible outcomes and multiple secondary measures to ultimately clear the way for vepoloxamer approval. The analyst notes another sharp advantage for MSTX lies in the current absence of approved drugs for treating pain crisis.

“Thus, we believe a safe drug that demonstrates even a “clinically meaningful” benefit may not be not denied to a well-organized sickle cell community. We’ll know the outcome soon, with data this month,” he concludes.

Therefore, ahead of results, McCarthy reiterates a Buy rating on shares of MSTX with a $5.00 price target, which represents a 747% increase from where the stock is currently trading.

According to TipRanks, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, two-star analyst Jason McCarthy is ranked #2,449 out of 4,124 analysts. McCarthy has a 37% success rate and realizes 0.1% in his yearly returns. When recommending MSTX, McCarthy garners 65.2% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics show MSTX as a Strong Buy. 100% of analysts polled in the last 3 months rate a Buy on MSTX. The consensus price target stands at $3.33, marking a nearly 446% upside from where the shares last closed.screen-shot-09-12-16-at-04-54-pm