What happened

Shares of Idera Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:IDRA), a clinical-stage biotech developing nucleic-acid-based cancer therapies, continued its weeklong slide after the company reported first-quarter earnings. As of 3 p.m. EDT, the stock had fallen about 11% during Friday's session to bring its losses for the week to 20.9%.

So what

Without a product to sell yet, there isn't much in the company's financial performance to upset investors. A loss of $15.2 million in the first quarter was a bit higher than the previous-year period, but $91.3 million in cash and equivalents on the balance sheet at the end of March should be enough to fund development of several new drug candidates in clinical trials at the moment.

Frustrated investor looking at downward-sloping stock charts

Image source: Getty Images.

While Idera Pharmaceuticals' financials might be fine, investors weren't too thrilled with updated timelines for candidates in early to midstage clinical development. The company's former lead candidate, IMO-8400, was slated for trials in several indications, but this program has been slimmed down to one phase 2 study for the treatment of dermatomyositis. Although the study began in 2015, the company plans to complete enrolling all 36 patients by the end of 2017.

Now what

Idera has more or less placed IMO-8400 on the back burner to focus its limited resources on its new lead candidate, IMO-2125, for the treatment of a relatively new cross-section of melanoma patients. Last September, the stock soared after a positive company announcement: Three out of 10 patients with advanced melanoma that recurred after treatment with PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors showed a response after treatment with IMO-2125 in combination with Yervoy from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

The PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors are powerful new tools in oncologists' arsenals, but relapses do occur. To see any patients so heavily pretreated show a response is encouraging. Idera sprinkled more good news on the IMO-2125 program by noting even the highest dose tested appeared well tolerated when given in combination with Bristol's Yervoy, a drug with well-known tolerability issues.

Idera has started discussing the regulatory path forward for its lead candidate (in combination with Yervoy) with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but don't hold your breath. So far only 9 of 21 patients have been enrolled in the phase 2 portion, and the company doesn't expect to have data until the first quarter of 2018.

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