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Aptose Biosciences Shares Rise 55% on Q4 Financial Results and Promising Clinical Trials

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Aptose Biosciences Inc. shares traded 55% higher after the company posted Q4 and FY/20 financial results and provided an update on the status of its drug candidates in ongoing clinical trials investigating treatments for life threatening hematologic cancers.

After U.S. markets closed for trading yesterday, clinical-stage hematologic cancer focused biotechnology company Aptose Biosciences Inc. (APTO:NASDAQ) announced operating and financial results the fourth quarter and full year 2020 ended December 31, 2020.

Aptose Biosciences reported that it posted a net loss of $14.7 million ($0.17 per share) in Q4/20, compared to a net loss of $7.7 million ($0.13 per share) in Q4/19. For FY/20 the company stated that it registered a net loss of $55.2 million ($0.67 per share), versus a net loss of $26.3 million ($0.52 per share) in FY/19.

The firm noted that it remains well capitalized and that as of the December 31, 2020, it had total cash and cash equivalents and investments on its balance sheet totaling $122.4 million. Aptose reported that these balances are sufficient to fund all of its operations, trials and research into H1/23.

Aptose Biosciences' Chairman, President and CEO William G. Rice, Ph.D. commented, "During 2020, Aptose executed on our three clinical trials which are now all well under way: two studies with our cluster selective kinase inhibitor luxeptinib (CG-806) and one with our MYC repressor APTO-253...Dose escalation continues in each of these trials, and we and our investigators are encouraged by indicators of luxeptinib's anti-cancer activity and safety profile. With APTO-253, we are observing consistent MYC repression, an indicator of activity that suggests future potential for broad oncology application. We look forward to providing the next complete data update at the 2021 EHA Virtual Congress."

The firm also reported on the departure of its EVP and CFO Gregory Chow who chose to seek a new opportunity at a private biopharma company. The company advised that temporarily Dr. Rice will serve as Chief Accounting Officer and that Jotin Marango, M.D., Ph.D., chief business officer, will take care of the CFO responsibilities until a permanent replacement is found. Aptose noted that it intends to enter into a special ongoing consulting agreement with Mr. Chow effective March 26, 2021.

The company discussed some recent corporate highlights and advised that during 2020 luxeptinib was adopted as the generic name for CG-806 by the United States Adopted Name (USAN) Council. The firm noted that luxeptinib is presently being evaluated in a Phase 1a/b clinical study in acute myeloid leukemia AML) across six sites in the U.S.

Aptose indicated that it is also conducting a separate Phase 1a/b clinical study of luxeptinib in B-cell malignancies, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHL) in patients who have failed or cannot tolerate existing therapies.

The company also reported on the status of its Phase 1a/b clinical study of APTO-253 in AML and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Aptos claimed that "APTO-253 is the only known clinical-stage molecule that can directly target and inhibit expression of the MYC oncogene, shown to reprogram survival signaling pathways and contribute to drug resistance in many malignancies, including hematologic malignancies."

The firm noted that the coronavirus did not significantly impact operating results during FY/20 and that the company did not experience any material delays with patient enrollments or timelines for either the luxeptinib Phase 1a/b trial or the luxeptinib AML trial as it is using multiple clinical sites for the studies.

The company added that it intends to contract with a variety of clinical sites for the intravenously administered APTO-253 trial as well, which requires hospital and clinical site resources to assist and monitor patients during each infusion. The firm stated that the COVID-19 situation will most likely impact the pace of enrollments in this study due to the nature of the trial settings. The company added that so far it has not experienced any material delays in manufacturing luxeptinib or APTO-253 due to COVID-19.

Aptose Biosciences is a clinical-stage biotechnology company that is engaged in the development of targeted agents addressing acute myeloid leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and other blood related malignancies.

Aptose Biosciences started off the day with a market cap of around $326.1 million with approximately 88.86 million shares outstanding and a short interest of about 2.5%. APTO shares opened 44% higher today at $5.29 (+$1.62, +44.14%) over yesterday's $3.67 closing price. The stock has traded today between $5.15 and $7.20 per share and is presently trading at $5.69 (+$2.02, +55.04%).


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