GALT: Galectin Therapeutics Analysis and Research Report
2018-09-04 - by Asif , Contributing Analyst - 292 views
Galectin Therapeutics is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company engaged in drug research and development to create new therapies for fibrotic disease, severe skin disease, and cancer. The company's drug candidates are based on its method of targeting galectin proteins, which are key mediators of biologic and pathologic functions. The company use naturally occurring, readily-available plant products as starting material in manufacturing processes to create proprietary complex carbohydrates with specific molecular weights and other pharmaceutical properties. These complex carbohydrate molecules are appropriately formulated into acceptable pharmaceutical formulations. Using these unique carbohydrate-based candidate compounds that largely bind and inhibit galectin proteins, particularly galectin-3, Galectin Therapeutics is undertaking the focused pursuit of therapies for indications where galectins have a demonstrated role in the pathogenesis of a given disease. The company focus on diseases with serious, life-threatening consequences to patients and those where current treatment options are limited. The company's strategy is to establish and implement clinical development programs that add value to its business in the shortest period of time possible and to seek strategic partners when a program becomes advanced and requires significant additional resources.
The company's lead galectin-3 inhibitor is GR-MD-02, which has been demonstrated in preclinical models to reverse liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. GR-MD-02 has the potential to treat many diseases due to galectin-3’s involvement in multiple key biological pathways such as immune cell function and immunity, cell differentiation, cell growth, and apoptosis (cell death). Galectin Therapeutics Inc. is using this inhibitor to treat advanced liver fibrosis and liver cirrhosis in NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) patients. Galectin Therapeutics has completed two Phase 1 clinical studies, a Phase 2 clinical study in NASH patients with advanced fibrosis (NASH-FX) and a second Phase 2B clinical trial in NASH patients with well compensated cirrhosis. The company announced, in December 2017 top line results from its Phase 2b study in NASH patients with cirrhosis (NASH-CX). NASH cirrhosis is a progressive disease, currently not treatable and ultimately may result in liver failure that has poor prognosis and no effective, approved medical therapies other than liver transplant. Galectin-3 expression is highly increased in the liver of patients with liver fibrosis and liver cirrhosis. The company believe that its galectin-3 inhibitor, by reducing galectin-3 at the cellular level, ultimately showing a strong anti-fibrotic potential may provide a novel treatment for various forms of liver fibrosis.
The company endeavor to leverage its scientific and product development expertise as well as established relationships with outside sources to achieve cost-effective and efficient drug development. These outside sources, amongst others, provide it with expertise in preclinical models, pharmaceutical development, toxicology, clinical trial operations, pharmaceutical manufacturing, sophisticated physical and chemical characterization, and commercial development. The company also have established several collaborative scientific discovery programs with leading experts in carbohydrate chemistry and characterization. These discovery programs are generally aimed at the targeted development of new carbohydrate molecules that bind galectin proteins and offer alternative options to larger market segments in its primary disease indications. The company also have established through Galectin Sciences LLC, a discovery program aimed at the targeted development of small molecules (generally, non-carbohydrate) that bind galectin proteins and may afford options for alternative means of drug delivery (e.g., oral) and as a result expand the potential uses of its galectin-3 inhibitor compounds. Galectin Therapeutics is also pursuing a development pathway to clinical enhancement and commercialization for its lead compounds in immuno-oncology for cancer therapy and severe skin disease including moderate to severe plaque psoriasis and severe atopic dermatitis. However, its clinical development efforts are focused on both liver fibrosis and fatty liver disease as represented by a Phase 2 clinical trial in NASH-cirrhosis which reported top line data in December 2017. All of its proposed products are presently in development, including pre-clinical and clinical trials.
Drug Development Programs
Galectins are a class of proteins that are made by many cells in the body, but predominantly in cells of the immune system. As a group, these proteins are able to bind to sugar molecules that are part of other proteins, glycoproteins, in and on the cells of its body. Galectin proteins act as a kind of molecular glue, bringing together molecules that have sugars on them. Galectin proteins, in particular galectin-3, are known to be markedly increased in a number of important diseases including inflammatory diseases, scarring of organs (e.g. liver, lung, kidney, and heart) and cancers of many kinds. The increase in galectin protein promotes the disease and is detrimental to the patient. Published data substantiating the importance of galectin-3 in the fibrotic process arises from gene knockout experiments in animal studies. Mice genetically altered to eliminate the galectin-3 gene, and thus unable to produce galectin-3, are incapable of developing liver fibrosis in response to toxic insult to the liver and in fatty liver disease as well as development of fibrosis in other tissues.
Galectin Therapeutics has one new proprietary chemical entity (NCE) in development, GR-MD-02, which has shown promise in preclinical and early clinical studies in treatment of fibrosis, severe skin disease, and in cancer therapy. Currently Galectin Therapeutics is focusing on development of GR-MD-02 intended to be used in the treatment of liver fibrosis associated with fatty liver disease (NASH) and more specifically in NASH cirrhosis. Galectin Therapeutics has also leveraged its relationships with well-known investigators to demonstrate clinical effects of GR-MD-02 in treating moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, severe atopic dermatitis, and in cancer therapy in combination with immune-system modifying agent(s). GR-MD-02 is a proprietary, patented compound derived from natural, readily available, plant-based starting materials, which, following chemical processing, exhibits the properties of binding to and inhibiting galectin-3 proteins. A second NCE, GM-CT-01 is a proprietary, patented compound that is made from a completely different starting source plant material and also binds and inhibits galectin proteins.
Product pipeline is shown below:
|NASH with Advanced Fibrosis:||GR-MD-02||IND submitted January 2013. Results from the Phase 1 clinical trial were reported in 2014, with final results reported in January 2015. End of Phase 1 meeting held with FDA in 2014. Two Phase 2 clinical trials were designed.|
|NASH-CX trial and||The NASH FX trial was designed for patients with advanced fibrosis but not cirrhosis. The NASH FX trial top line data was reported in September 2016|
|NASH-FX trial||The NASH CX trial was designed for patients with well compensated cirrhosis. The NASH CX trial top line data was reported in December 2017 and additional results derived from the study were presented subsequently.|
|Lung Fibrosis||GR-MD-02||In pre-clinical development|
|Kidney Fibrosis||GR-MD-02||In pre-clinical development|
|Cardiac and Vascular Fibrosis||GR-MD-02||In pre-clinical development|
|GM-CT-01||Not in active development|
|Melanoma, Head, Neck Squamous Cell||GR-MD-02||Investigator IND submitted in December 2013. Phase 1B study in process. A second Phase 1B study began in Q-1 2016. Investigator IND for that study submitted in September 2015. Early data was reported in February 2017 and studies with the 3rd cohort are ongoing.|
|Moderate to Severe Plaque Psoriasis||GR-MD-02||IND submitted March 2015. A phase 2a trial in moderate to severe plaque psoriasis patients began in January 2016. Interim data on the first four patients were positive and were reported in May 2016. Further positive data was reported in September 2016. Investigator initiated IND submitted for treatment of three patients with severe atopic dermatitis, with positive preliminary data presented in February 2017.|
Fibrosis. GR-MD-02 is its lead product candidate for treatment of fibrotic disease. The company's preclinical data show that GR-MD-02 has a significant therapeutic effect on liver fibrosis as shown in several relevant animal models. In addition, in NASH animal models, GR-MD-02 has been shown to reduce liver fat, inflammation, and ballooning degeneration or death of liver cells. Therefore, the company chose GR-MD-02 as the lead candidate in a development program targeted initially at fibrotic liver disease associated with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH, or fatty liver disease). In January 2013, an Investigational New Drug (“IND”) was submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) with the goal of initiating a Phase 1 study in patients with NASH and advanced liver fibrosis to evaluate the human safety of GR-MD-02 and pharmacodynamics biomarkers of disease. On March 1, 2013, the FDA indicated the company could proceed with a US Phase 1 clinical trial for GR-MD-02 with a development program aimed at obtaining support for a proposed indication of GR-MD-02 for treatment of NASH with advanced fibrosis. The Phase 1 trial was completed and demonstrated that GR-MD-02 up to 8 mg/kg, i.v. was safe and well tolerated. The human pharmacokinetic data defined a drug dose for use in the planned Phase 2 trials based on extrapolation from efficacy data in NASH animal models of liver fibrosis and/or cirrhosis. Additionally, there was evidence of a pharmacodynamic effect of GR-MD-02 at the 8 mg/kg dose with a decrease in alpha 2 macroglobulin, a serum marker of fibrotic activity, and a reduction in liver stiffness as determined by FibroScan®. An “End of Phase 1 Meeting” was held with FDA which, amongst other items, provided guidance on the primary endpoint for the Phase 2 clinical trial, the NASH-CX trial.
Additionally, an open label drug-drug interaction study was completed in healthy volunteers during the second quarter of 2015 with GR-MD-02, and it showed that with 8 mg/kg dose of GR-MD-02 and 2 mg/kg dose of midazolam there was no drug-drug interaction and no serious adverse events or drug-related adverse events were observed. This study was required by the FDA, and the primary objective was to determine if single or multiple intravenous (IV) doses of GR-MD-02 affect the pharmacokinetics (PK) of midazolam. The secondary objective was to assess the safety and tolerability of GR-MD-02 when administered concomitantly with midazolam. The lack of a drug interaction in this study enabled the Company to expand the number of patients eligible for its Phase 2 clinical trial. In addition, should GR-MD-02 be approved for marketing, the success of this study supports a broader patient population for the drug label.
The company's Phase 2 program in fibrotic disease consists of two separate human clinical trials. The primary clinical trial is the Phase 2b NASH-CX study for one year for patients with NASH with well compensated cirrhosis, which began enrolling in June, 2015. This study is the primary focus of its program and is a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, parallel-group Phase 2b trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of GR-MD-02 for treatment of liver fibrosis and resultant portal hypertension in NASH patients with well compensated cirrhosis. A smaller, exploratory NASH-FX trial was conducted to explore potential use of various non-invasive imaging techniques in NASH patients with advanced fibrosis but not cirrhosis.
NASH-FX Trial: The NASH-FX trial, a Phase 2a pilot trial NASH-FX for patients with NASH advanced fibrosis that explored use of three non-invasive imaging technologies, is now complete. It was a short, single site, four-month trial in 30 NASH patients with advanced fibrosis, but not cirrhosis, randomized 1:1 to either 9 bi-weekly doses of 8 mg/kg of GR-MD-02 or placebo. The trial did not meet its primary biomarker endpoint as measured using multi-parametric magnetic resonance imaging (LiverMultiScan(R), Perspectum Diagnostics). The trial also did not meet secondary endpoints that measure liver stiffness as a surrogate for fibrosis using, magnetic resonance-elastography and FibroScan® score. We, and many experts in the field, now believe that a four-month treatment period may not be sufficient to show efficacy results in established liver fibrosis. This small study was not powered for the secondary endpoints and thus, not surprisingly did not meet the secondary endpoints. In the trial, GR-MD-02 was found to be safe and well tolerated among the patient population with no serious adverse events. Although there was no apparent improvement in the three non-invasive tests for assessment of liver fibrosis in the four-month NASH-FX trial, the principal investigator of the NASH-FX trial has stated that the inhibition of galectin-3 with GR-MD-02 remains promising for the treatment of NASH fibrosis. Of note is that GR-MD-02 has demonstrated an improved clinical effect in moderate-to-severe psoriasis, suggesting the compound has activity in humans in an immune-mediated inflammatory human disease that can occur in association with NASH. The company believe its drug candidate provides a promising new approach for the therapy of fibrotic diseases, and liver fibrosis in particular. Fibrosis is the formation of excess connective tissue (collagen and other proteins plus cellular elements such as myofibroblasts) in response to damage, inflammation or repair. When the fibrotic tissue becomes confluent, it obliterates the cellular architecture, leading to scarring and dysfunction of the underlying organ. Given galectin-3’s broad biological functionality, it has been demonstrated to be involved in cancer, inflammation and fibrosis, heart disease, and renal disease. Galectin Therapeutics has further demonstrated the broad applicability of the actions of its galectin-3 inhibitor’s biological effect in ameliorating fibrosis involving lung, kidney, blood vessels, and cardiac tissues in a wide variety of animal models.
NASH-CX Trial: The NASH-CX trial was a larger well-designed multi-center clinical trial which explored use of GR-MD-02 for the treatment of liver fibrosis and resultant portal hypertension in patients with well-compensated NASH cirrhosis. Enrollment in this trial was completed in September, 2016, and a total of 162 patients at 36 sites in the United States were randomized to receive either 2 mg/kg of GR-MD-02, 8 mg/kg of GR-MD-02 or placebo, with approximately 54 patients in each group. The primary endpoint is a reduction in change in hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG). Patients received an infusion every other week for one year, total of 26 infusions, and were evaluated to determine the change in HVPG as compared with placebo. HVPG was also correlated with secondary endpoints of fibrosis on liver biopsy as well as with measurement of liver stiffness (FibroScan(R)) and assessment of liver metabolism (13C-methacetin breath test, Exalenz), which are non-invasive measures of the liver that may be used in future studies. Top line data readout was reported in December 2017 demonstrating positive efficacy data and safety and clinically meaningful results in the NASH patients with well compensated cirrhosis without esophageal varices (stage 1 cirrhosis).
In the total patient population, the primary endpoint HVPG showed a trend toward benefit with GR-MD-02 treatment, but the difference from placebo was not statistically significant. The mean change in HVPG of placebo from baseline to week 54 was 0.3 mm Hg. The mean change in HVPG from baseline was -0.37 and -0.42 for the 2 mg/kg dose and 8 mg/kg dose of GR-MD-02, respectively.
Further analysis showed that the drug effect was significantly dependent on dose “varices” in the total group of patients (p<0.02). In those NASH cirrhosis patients without varices at baseline (about 50% of the total population), there was a statistically significant effect of the 2 mg/kg dose of GR-MD-02 on the absolute change in HVPG (-1.08 mm Hg, p<0.01). The effect of the 8 mg/kg dose of GR-MD-02 on absolute or percent change in HVPG from baseline to week 54 was not significant. The population of patients without varices at baseline were further subdivided into those with mild portal hypertension (HVPG greater or equal to 6 mm Hg and less than 10 mm Hg). In patients with mild portal hypertension (MPH), both doses of GR-MD-02 demonstrated a statistically significant effect on change in HVPG. The mean change in HVPG in the MPH group were +1.8 mm Hg for placebo and -0.3 and -0.4 mm Hg in the 2 mg/kg and 8 mg/kg dose groups, respectively. In patients with clinically significant portal hypertension (HVPG greater than 10 Mm Hg) with no varices at baseline, there was a statistically significant effect of 2 mg/kg of GR-MD-02 on the change in HVPG.
A responder analysis was performed on those patients without varices at baseline. Analysis was performed looking at two groups: those with an equal to or greater than 2 mm Hg decrease in HVPG from baseline or those with an equal to or greater than 2 mm Hg and greater than or equal to 20% decrease in HVPG from baseline. In both cases, the change observed in the GR-MD-02 2 mg/kg group was statistically significant (p<0.01) while that of the 8 mg/kg group was not.
Additional ad hoc analysis examining the PK-PD correlation between human data and the mouse NASH model showed that the apparent lack of a dose response in the 8 mg/kg dose group (GR8) may be due to fact that a large number of patients in the GR8 group had very high levels of GR-MD-02. When the GR8 group patients were divided into groups with serum drug levels greater than 12,000 ughr/mL and those below 12,000 ughr/mL, there was a statistically significant difference in the change in HVPG in the GR8 group with lower serum levels of GR-MD-02 of approximately -8%. Thus, the apparent less pronounced effects of GR8 may be explained, at least in part, by the variable pharmacokinetics observed in the patients which received GR8. This mirrors the effects seen in the NASH mouse model experiments in which the anti-inflammatory effects of GR-MD-02 were significantly reduced at doses between 60 mg/kg and 120 mg/kg.
In terms of cirrhosis complications over the 54-week treatment period, in patients without varices there were statistically significantly fewer new varices that developed in the treatment groups vs placebo. The company believe this may represent a useful measure of clinical outcome.
The major conclusions, to date from the NASH-CX trial results are that: i) GR-MD-02 had a statistically significant and clinically meaningful effect in improving HVPG vs placebo in patients with NASH cirrhosis who did not have esophageal varices at baseline; this effect was seen regardless of the patient’s baseline portal hypertension. Furthermore, the company believe that patients with esophageal varices may have masked benefits in the total patient population; ii) there was an important drug effect of GR-MD-02 in the total patient population on liver biopsy with a statistically significant improvement in hepatocyte ballooning (ie cell death); (iii) there was a statistically significant reduction (p=0.02) in the development of new esophageal varices in drug-treated patients compared to placebo; the company believe that this is a clinically relevant endpoint related to patient outcomes; (iv) while there was a drug effect in both the 2 mg/kg and 8 mg/kg dosage groups on liver biopsy and in the mild portal hypertension group, there was a consistently greater and statistically significant effect of the 2 mg/kg dose of GR-MD-02; (v) the apparent lack of a dose response in the GR8 group may be explained by variable pharmacokinetics in the high dose group, and this suggests use of an additional and intermediate dose between 2 and 8 mg/Kg in subsequent trials; (vi) GR-MD-02 appears to be safe and well tolerated in this one year clinical trial; and (vii) the company believe this is the first large, randomized clinical trial of any drug to demonstrate a clinically meaningful improvement in portal hypertension or liver biopsy in patients with compensated NASH cirrhosis without esophageal varices.
The Company met with FDA on May 08, 2018. Following which it announced that it is proceeding with plans for a Phase 3 clinical trial program with its galectin-3 inhibitor GR-MD-02 in NASH cirrhosis, incorporating advice and guidance obtained in the meeting with the FDA.
The target population of the Phase 3 clinical trial will be patients with NASH cirrhosis without esophageal varices. The primary endpoint will be chosen from two endpoints that the FDA agreed may be acceptable: The change in hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG), which is a measure of liver blood pressure, or the progression to esophageal varices. Both primary endpoints may be considered surrogate endpoints for clinical outcomes in the target population with NASH cirrhosis.
The basis for advancing to Phase 3 is the positive effects of GR-MD-02 on HVPG and the possible prevention or postponement of development of esophageal varices observed in the post-hoc analysis of the Phase 2 NASH-CX trial, which the company believe is the first large, randomized clinical trial of any drug to demonstrate a clinically meaningful improvement in these patients. The potential choice between two primary endpoints for Phase 3 trials provides enhanced flexibility in designing the strongest trial to replicate the efficacy demonstrated in the Phase 2 NASH-CX trial. However, there can be no assurance that a larger trial will replicate the results of the NASH-CX trial. The choice of which primary endpoint to use is a complex and important decision for the design of the Phase 3 trial and may require additional input from external advisors and the FDA. Additionally, the clinical trial design discussed with the FDA provides for interim analysis which may provide confirmation of Phase 2 results and enhanced confidence for the ultimate results of the Phase 3 trial.
As disclosed in May 2018, the FDA has not granted breakthrough designation at this time based on the Agency’s current assessment that additional confirmatory data are needed to identify the level of change in HVPG that is reasonably likely to predict clinical outcomes. Although the company disagree with FDA’s decision not to grant Breakthrough Therapy designation, the company understand their position because while the NASH-CX trial missed on the primary endpoint in the total population, the additional analysis of NASH-CX trial is, to its knowledge, the first randomized clinical trial of any drug to demonstrate a clinically meaningful improvement in HVPG in NASH cirrhosis patients. While Breakthrough Designation was not granted at this time, the program continues to benefit from Fast Track designation which provides many of the same advantages as Breakthrough Therapy designation, including potential for accelerated approval and priority review.
Details of the Phase 3 clinical trial design, including projected timings and costs, will be announced once the planning phase has been completed. These planning activities, include amongst other items and activities, completion of a detailed final clinical trial protocol that the company believes meets regulatory expectations, and estimates for pricing and timing are derived from a Request for Proposal process involving Clinical Research Organizations. Various other activities, amongst others include, manufacturing of clinical supplies in support of a Phase 3 program and certain antecedent advanced reproductive toxicology studies as defined by FDA in accordance with guidelines of the International Committee on Harmonization, assessing the need for foreign regulatory filings to permit inclusion of additional clinical sites into the Phase 3 trial program to accelerate enrollment of patients and meet ICH expectations on minimum patient exposure requirements. The focus and goal of the therapeutic program is to stop the progression of and reverse the fibrosis in the liver and, thereby improve liver function and prevent the development of complications of fibrosis/cirrhosis and liver-related mortality in patients. The results of the NASH-CX trial suggest that, subject to confirmation in additional or later stage clinical trials, this goal is achievable in a significant portion of the NASH cirrhosis patient population i.e. those NASH cirrhosis patients without esophageal varices.
Cancer Immunotherapy. The company believe there is potential for galectin inhibition to play a key role in the burgeoning area of cancer immunotherapy. For example, there have been several recent approvals of drugs that enhance a patient’s immune system to fight cancer. It is its goal to use a galectin inhibitor to enhance the immune system function to fight cancer in a way that complements other approaches to this type of therapy. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that galectin-3 is expressed at high levels in multiple types of tumors, adds to the malignant nature of the tumors, and protects the tumors from immune system attack. The company's drug candidates provide a promising new therapeutic approach to enhance the activity of the immune system against cancer cells. Preclinical studies have indicated that GR-MD-02 enhances the immune response to cancer cells, increased tumor shrinkage and enhanced survival in immune competent mice with prostate, breast, melanoma and sarcoma cancers when combined with one of the immune checkpoint inhibitors, anti-CTLA-4 or anti-PD-1, and with the immune cell activator anti-OX40. These preclinical data led to the filing of two Investigator-sponsored INDs and the initiation of studies of GR-MD-02 in combination with Yervoy® (ipilimumab) and KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) in Phase 1B studies of patients with metastatic melanoma. The KEYTRUDA trial has also been expanded to include patients with non-small cell lung cancer and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. These studies are being conducted under the sponsorship of Providence Portland Medical Center’s Earle A. Chiles Research Institute (EACRI).
Data on this combination immunotherapy program was presented on February 7, 2017 at the 9th GTCBio Immunotherapeutics & Immunomonitoring Conference in San Diego, CA by Dr. William L. Redmond, Providence Cancer Center. Preclinical results in mouse models of multiple types of cancers showed important anti-tumor and increased survival effects of combining GR-MD-02 with different types of immune modulators, providing a case for progressing studies into human patients with cancer. Seven patients were treated in the GR-MD-02 in combination with Yervoy trial, with no safety concerns in these low dose cohorts. Due to changes in the standard of care for metastatic melanoma (i.e., approval of anti-PD-1), recruitment has been slowed significantly in this trial. Promising results were reported in the Phase 1b trial combining GR-MD-02 with pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA). Cohort 1 was completed (n=6, 5 with melanoma, one head and neck) with one partial response and one mixed response in 5 melanoma patients. There was a rapid and marked tumor response after 3 doses of combined GR-MD-02 and pembrolizumab in the one partial response patient who had failed high-dose IL-2 and oncolytic virus + ipilimumab. The study is ongoing and progression to further development will be based on response rate as compared to historical response rates to pembrolizumab alone. Results from third cohort of patients is expected in Summer, 2018.
Severe skin diseases. During its Phase 1 NASH fibrosis trial with GR-MD-02, a clinical effect on plaque psoriasis was observed in a NASH patient who also had this disease. This patient had marked improvement in her psoriasis, with improvement beginning after the third infusion. She reported that her psoriasis was “completely gone” and her skin was “normal” after the fourth infusion. Her skin remained normal for 17 months after the final infusion of study drug. The patient is convinced that the improvement in her psoriasis is related to the study drug.
This serendipitous finding, combined with galectin-3 protein being markedly upregulated in the capillary epithelia (small blood vessels) of the psoriatic dermis (plaque lesions), led to a phase 2a trial in patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. GR-MD-02 inhibition of galectin-3 may attenuate capillary changes in the psoriatic dermis and inflammatory recruitment, perhaps explaining the improvements observed in the NASH fibrosis trial patient. In this open-label, unblinded trial (no placebo, all patients knowingly receive active drug), 5 patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis were administered GR-MD-02 every two weeks for 24 weeks. In May 2016, the company reported positive results on the first four patients after 12 weeks of therapy. Based on these results, the company modified the trial to include 24 weeks of therapy. In August 2016, the company reported on four patients after 24 weeks of therapy and one patient after 12 weeks of therapy. The four patients who received 24 weeks of therapy experienced an average of 48% improvement in their plaque psoriasis. At this time, the average response in all five patients remains at 50% with one patient having an 82% improvement. However, there are existing drugs on the market in this disease that produce 75% and higher improvements in 60-90% of patients. While Galectin Therapeutics is encouraged that this study has demonstrated clinically meaningful results in a human disease with GR-MD-02, the next steps would entail a controlled, does-ranging clinical trial which the company do not expect to conduct absent a strategic partnership.
The company believe the mechanism of action for GR-MD-02 is based upon interaction with, and inhibition of, galectin proteins, particularly galectin-3, which are expressed at high levels in certain pathological states including inflammation, fibrosis and cancer. While GR-MD-02 is capable of binding to multiple galectin proteins, the company believe that it has the greatest affinity for galectin-3, the most prominent galectin implicated in pathological processes.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
Since its inception on July 10, 2000, Galectin Therapeutics has financed its operations from proceeds of public and private offerings of debt and equity. As of June 30, 2018, the company raised a net total of $146.1 million from these offerings. Galectin Therapeutics has operated at a loss since its inception and have had no significant revenues. The company anticipate that losses will continue for the foreseeable future. At June 30, 2018, the Company had $10.5 million of unrestricted cash and cash equivalents available to fund future operations. The Company believes there is sufficient cash, including availability of the line of credit, to fund currently planned operations at least through June 30, 2019. The company's ability to fund operations after its current cash resources are exhausted depends on its ability to obtain additional financing or achieve profitable operations, as to which no assurances can be given. Accordingly, based on the forecasts and estimates underlying its current operating plan, the financial statements do not currently include any adjustments that might be necessary if Galectin Therapeutics is unable to continue as a going concern.
Net cash used in operations decreased by $2,270,000 to $6,595,000 for the six months ended June 30, 2018, as compared to $8,865,000 for the six months ended June 30, 2017. Cash operating expenses decreased principally due to the winding down of Phase 2 research and development activities related to its clinical trial activity with GR-MD-02.
Net cash provided by financing activities the six months ended June 30, 2018, of $14,039,000 represents proceeds from the exercise of common stock warrants and options and sale of common stock. Net cash provided by financing activities the three months ended June 30, 2017, of $2,630,000 represents net proceeds from the sale of common stock and warrants.