If you're an AnaptysBio (ANAB -2.18%) shareholder bored to tears while waiting for midstage studies to wrap up, buckle up because this ride's about to get a lot more interesting. The fourth quarter of 2018 wasn't too eventful, but 2019 promises to be the most exciting year yet for this clinical-stage biotech and its growing lineup of potential new anti-inflammation drugs. 

AnaptysBio results: The raw numbers

Metric Q4 2018 Q4 2017 Year-Over-Year Change
Revenue N/A $3.0 million N/A
Income from operations ($19.7 million) ($7.2 million) (174%)
Earnings per share ($0.64) ($0.30) (113%)

Data source: AnaptysBio, Inc.

What happened with AnaptysBio this quarter?

In September, AnaptysBio announced proof-of-concept trial results that suggest its lead candidate etokimab could become a new treatment option for patients with severe eosinophilic asthma. Patients showed an 8% forced expiration improvement compared to a placebo group on day two, and on day 64, that improvement rose to 11%. 

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Crowd of cheering doctors.

Image source: Getty Images.

The 300-patient, randomized Atlas study with etokimab as a potential treatment for eczema continued without any drama. The company also kept the 100-patient, placebo-controlled Eclipse study running for chronic rhinosinusitis patients with nasal polyps.

There wasn't any revenue to report during the fourth quarter, but operating expenses rose 94%, to $19.7 million. Running more clinical trials will get expensive, but AnaptysBio thinks there's enough cash on its balance sheet to see the company through the end of 2020. During the fourth quarter, the company raised $227.5 million in a secondary offering, and its cash balance stood at $500.2 million at the end of December.

What management had to say

Hamza Suria, AnaptysBio's CEO, laid out plans for an exciting year that could give the company plenty of paths to success if etokimab's eczema results aren't good enough to compete with Dupixent from Regeneron. During its first full year since earning approval in 2017, Regeneron's treatment reached $922 million in sales -- and there are no guarantees etokimab will be able to break into the eczema space.

Top-line data from our etokimab Phase 2a trial in severe adult eosinophilic asthma patients demonstrated rapid and sustained improvement in Forced Exhaled Volume In One Second versus placebo, with corresponding reduction in blood eosinophil levels. We look forward to announcing four Phase 2 top-line data readouts from ongoing clinical trials of etokimab and ANB019 during 2019 and expanding our pipeline with an IND filing for a new wholly owned anti-inflammatory antibody program.

Although 2018 was downright dull from a shareholder's perspective, there's a lot to look forward to in 2019, including a new clinical stage anti-inflammation candidate. That will help shareholders rest a little easier as etokimab approaches some crucial trial readouts.

Investor looking through binoculars.

Image source: Getty Images.

Looking forward

This is going to be a much busier year than AnaptysBio shareholders are used to. The company intends to begin a phase 2b asthma study with larger doses of etokimab this year and present results from four midstage clinical trials with etokimab and ANB019.

The company's running a 10 patient single-arm study with ANB019 as a potential treatment for generalized pustular psoriasis that should read out in the middle of the year. Top-line results from a 50-patient placebo-controlled study with palmoplantar pustulosis patients should be available in the second half.

Readouts from two drugs in four midstage studies with different patient groups could give this biotech plenty of options for 2020 and the years ahead.