Acasti’s krill oil-derived drug fails late-stage study, shares tumble

(Reuters) – Acasti Pharma Inc said on Monday its krill oil-derived drug candidate, CaPre, failed to show a statistically significant reduction in a type of fat found in blood compared to placebo in a late-stage study, sending its shares down 54%.

The company said the drug, derived from shrimp-like crustaceans called krill, was not more effective than placebo in reducing high levels of triglycerides after 12 weeks and 26 weeks of treatment due to unusually large placebo effect.

Triglycerides contribute to heart disease alongside cholesterol.

CaPre, like Amarin Corp Plc’s fish-oil derived therapy Vascepa and GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s heart pill Lovaza, contains omega-3 fatty acids – substances found in foods and dietary supplements such as fish oil.

However, owing to its unique composition, Acasti hopes CaPre is positioned at an advantage over the rival therapies.

The company is also testing the drug in another late-stage study, results from which are expected in mid-February, and hopes it may provide more insight into the placebo response seen in the latest trial, Trilogy 1.

Acasti’s U.S.-listed shares were down at $1 before the opening bell.

Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla and Trisha Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

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