Mast Therapeutics Inc (NYSEMKT:MSTX) must confront how to move forward in the wake of a sickle cell phase III miss for its pipeline drug Vepoloxamer (MST-188), a rheological agent designed to improve blood patency.

The firm had hopes to help the sickle cell community, who suffers from a significant unmet need in treating sickle cell pain crises, which occur when sickle-shaped red blood cells block blood flow. Yet, the drug failed to meet its primary endpoint, and MSTX was forced to discontinue a program that could have helped treat the most prevalent and severe form of sickle cell disease.

In reaction, Cowen top analyst Ritu Baral downgrades from an Outperform to a Market Perform rating on shares of MSTX without listing a price target.

Baral notes, “MSTX now plans to conduct an interim look in its ongoing Ph2 trial of vepoloxamer in heart failure, but already stated it expects to terminate all clinical development of vepoloxamer. We note this program was the main focus of investor interest in the company.”

“We are downgrading MSTX to Market Perform on lack of clarity on a path forward after ‘188 missed in its Ph3 trial for sickle cell and the program was discontinued. We do not believe there is enough clinical data from the Ph2 AIR001 HpEF program to assign a likelihood of success. MSTX will make a $10MM payment on its Hercules loan in early Oct., further weakening its already tenuous cash position,” the analyst concludes.

As usual, we like to include the analyst’s track record when reporting on new analyst notes to give a perspective on the effect it has on stock performance. According to TipRanks, top five-star analyst Ritu Baral has achieved a high ranking of #50 out of 4,183 analysts. Baral has a 53% success rate and realizes 19.8% in her yearly returns. However, when recommending MSTX, Baral loses 16.6% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics exhibit MSTX as a Buy. Based on 4 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 50% rate a Buy on MSTX, while 50% maintain a Hold. The consensus price target stands at $2.50, marking a 1,983% upside from where the stock is currently trading.