Cytokinetics to focus on heart disease drug after ALS trial failure

By Khushi Mandowara

(Reuters) -Cytokinetics Inc said on Friday it would focus on its heart disease treatment after its amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) drug failed a late-stage study.

The drug developer's move to employ resources freed up from the ALS project for its potential billion-dollar-plus heart drug sent its shares up more than 5%.

Cytokinetics' heart disease drug, aficamten, is a "crown jewel in terms of the pipeline", said Oppenheimer analyst Justin Kim, who expects it could bring more than $1 billion in peak sales from U.S. alone, after approval.

Analysts have said aficamten is a key value driver for the company and could also lead to buyout interest.

The drug is being developed to treat a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathies, which causes thickening of heart muscles and can lead to cardiac arrest. Late-stage data from the drug is expected later this year.

"Already over two thirds of our research and development spending is going in development of aficamten, and that number will be higher now in light of other program," CEO Robert Blum said.

Cytokinetics earlier in the day said it would stop the development of its ALS drug, reldesemtiv, after a review of its late-stage study by an independent panel showed it had no effect in patients compared with placebo.

Blum did not provide details on the impact of discontinuing the ALS trial on the company's spending for 2023, but said that it would help extend the company's cash runway.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month declined to approve Cytokinetics' heart failure drug omecamtiv mecarbil after it failed to get the backing of the regulator's external advisers over safety concerns.

(Reporting by Khushi Mandowara in BengaluruEditing by Vinay Dwivedi)