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Leap Therapeutics Earnings. Is it a Buy?

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Leap Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq:LPTX), a biotechnology company focused on developing targeted and immuno-oncology therapeutics, today reported financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2020.

2020 Leap Highlights:

  • Signed agreement with BeiGene, Ltd. for rights to Leap’s anti-DKK1 antibody, DKN-01, in Asia (excluding Japan), Australia and New Zealand
  • Completed a $51.75 million public offering of common stock and pre-funded warrants to purchase common stock
  • Presented updated data from study of DKN-01 plus pembrolizumab in esophagogastric (EGC) cancer demonstrating positive outcomes in DKK1-high patients
  • Data for DKN-01 in endometrial cancer demonstrates single agent activity in biomarker-selected patients
  • First patient dosed in Phase 2a study of DKN-01 in combination with tislelizumab, BeiGene’s anti-PD-1 antibody, for the treatment of metastatic gastric or gastroesophageal junction (G/GEJ) cancer
  • Received Orphan Drug Designation and Fast Track Designation for DKN-01 from FDA

“2020 was a transformative year for Leap as we executed our first strategic alliance with BeiGene and advanced our DKN-01 development program, initiating our Phase 2a combination study with BeiGene’s tislelizumab in gastric cancer patients,” said Douglas E. Onsi, President and Chief Executive Officer of Leap. “The data for DKN-01 to date, both as a monotherapy and in combination approaches, provide evidence of the potential utility of DKN-01 as an attractive treatment option for multiple biomarker-focused cancer indications.”

DKN-01 Development Update

DKN-01 is a humanized monoclonal antibody that binds to and blocks the activity of the Dickkopf-1 (DKK1) protein, a modulator of Wnt/Beta-catenin and PI3K/AKT signaling pathways. DKK1 has an important role in tumor cell signaling and in mediating an immuno-suppressive tumor microenvironment.

  • Leap and BeiGene Announced First Patient Dosed in Study of DKN-01 in Combination with Tislelizumab for the Treatment of Metastatic Gastric/Gastroesophageal Junction (G/GEJ) Cancer – In September 2020, Leap and BeiGene announced that the first patient was dosed in the DisTinGuish trial (NCT04363801), a Phase 2a, nonrandomized, open-label, multicenter study of Leap’s DKN-01 in combination with BeiGene’s tislelizumab with or without chemotherapy as first-line or second-line therapy in adult patients with inoperable, locally advanced G/GEJ adenocarcinoma. The study, which will be conducted in two parts, is currently evaluating approximately forty patients with second-line G/GEJ cancer whose tumors are DKK1-high per perspective analysis. In addition, the study is evaluating the combination of DKN-01 with tislelizumab and capecitabine and oxaliplatin in approximately twenty patients with first-line G/GEJ cancer. Initial data is expected in the second half of 2021.

  • Leap Presented Updated Data from DKN-01 in EGC Demonstrating Positive Outcomes in DKK1-high Patients – At the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer’s (SITC) 35th Anniversary Annual Meeting, Leap presented clinical data from the Phase 1b/2a clinical trial of DKN-01 in patients with advanced EGC. In the study, high levels of tumoral DKK1 expression correlated with improved clinical outcomes in heterogeneous EGC patients treated with DKN-01 monotherapy or in combination with paclitaxel or the anti-PD-1 antibody, pembrolizumab.

  • Leap Presented Updated Data for DKN-01 in Endometrial Cancer Demonstrating Single Agent Activity in Biomarker-selected Patients – At the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Virtual Special Conference on Endometrial Cancer: New Biology Driving Research and Treatment, Leap presented additional clinical data from the epithelial endometrial cancer (EEC) patients treated with DKN-01 monotherapy as part of its ongoing Phase 2 clinical trial for DKN-01, as both a monotherapy and in combination with paclitaxel chemotherapy, in patients with advanced gynecological malignancies. In the study, DKN-01 demonstrated single agent activity in biomarker-selected EEC patients, including an ongoing complete response that is over 2.5 years in duration and prolonged progression-free survival. Additional data from this study will be presented at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology 2021 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer.

  • Leap Receives Orphan Drug Designation and Fast Track Designation – On June 11, 2020, the FDA granted Orphan Drug Designation to DKN-01 for the treatment of gastroesophageal junction and gastric cancer. On September 24, 2020, the FDA granted Fast Track Designation to DKN-01 in combination with tislelizumab for the treatment of patients with gastric and gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma whose tumors express high DKK1, following disease progression on or after prior fluoropyrimidine- and platinum-containing chemotherapy and if appropriate, human epidermal receptor growth factor (HER2)/neu-targeted therapy.

Selected Year-End and Fourth Quarter 2020 Financial Results

Net Loss was $27.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to $32.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2019. This decrease was primarily due to decreased research and development expenses following the deprioritization of the TRX518 program in 2019.

License revenues were $1.5 million for the full year 2020 and relate to the BeiGene Agreement for the development and commercialization of DKN-01 in Asia (excluding Japan), Australia, and New Zealand. License revenues were $0.4 million for the fourth quarter 2020.  The BeiGene Agreement became effective on January 3, 2020. As the BeiGene Agreement is the first such license agreement, no license revenues were recorded during the year ended December 31, 2019.

Research and development expenses were $20.4 million for full year 2020, compared to $24.4 million for same period in 2019. Research and development expenses were $5.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to $5.7 million for the same period in 2019.  These decreases were primarily due to decreased clinical trial costs due to deprioritizing the continued development of TRX518 in 2019 and timing of patient enrollment, decreased consulting fees associated with research and development activities, and decreased  rent expense due to the closing of our research laboratory in April of 2020. These decreases were partially offset by increases in payroll and other related expenses due to an increase in headcount of our research and development full time employees and increases in stock-based compensation expense due to new stock options granted to employees.

General and administrative expenses were $9.6 million for the full year 2020, compared to $9.1 million for the same period in 2019. The increase was due to an increase in professional fees primarily due to increased legal, recruiting and information technology costs, an increase in payroll and other related expenses due to an increase in compensation expense, and an increase in insurance expense. These increases were partially offset by a decrease in stock-based compensation expense.  General and administrative expenses were $2.4 million for the full year 2020 compared to $2.6 million for the same period in 2019.  This decrease was due to a decrease in stock-based compensation expense, partially offset by increased recruiting and information technology costs.

Cash and cash equivalents totaled $52.1 million at December 31, 2020. Research and development incentive receivables totaled $0.1 million.

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