Abrupt departure of Novogen CEO followed upbeat Anisina presentation

The abrupt departure of Australia's Novogen ($NVGN) CEO Graham Kelly this week came after the jointly listed Nasdaq and Australian Stock Exchange biotech presented details for a promising in vivo proof of concept study for anti-tropomyosin drug candidate Anisina in July in the U.S.

On the company's website was an update on Anisina with a presentation by Timothy Cripe, a doctor with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Research Institute, at the 8th Annual Cancer Molecular Therapeutics Research Association meeting in Boston. It showed improved efficacy of vincristine in animals and suggested the potential to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy for children with fewer side effects.

The animal study, CHLA20, to evaluate Anisina either alone or in combination with vincristine in a mouse model of human neuroblastoma was part of Australia's Children's Oncology Drug Alliance.

Former Novogen CEO Graham Kelly

Earlier this week the company said that Kelly had resigned and that Iain Ross will take an acting role in the post until a permanent appointment is made. No reason was provided for the management change. The shares fell nearly 13% on the day after the announcement to levels around A$0.205, though the stock has posted gains of more than 100% this year.

Ross is currently chairman of Premier Veterinary Group and a nonexecutive director of Amarantus Bioscience Holdings as well as ASX-listed Anatara Lifesciences, Benitec Biopharma and Tissue Therapies.

On June 24, Kelly said that "with $45M in cash, and the very real prospect of another $33M by the end of the year via short-term warrants, our shareholders have given the company the opportunity it asked for to prove the merit of its two technology platforms" with chemotherapy drug Anisina set to enter the clinic in 2016. 

That followed an earlier June notice that the firm had raised nearly $17.7 million in a non-renounceable pro-rata rights issue that included local institutional investors picking up a shortfall on June 2.

In May, the company announced it would present in Hong Kong on two drug technology platforms: the super-benzopyrans and the anti-tropomyocins.

- here's the presentation (PDF)