UPDATED: Jaguar charts positive news in equine health, hires Genentech pro as CFO

Jaguar Animal Health ($JAGX) hadn't made much of an impression on Wall Street since its May initial public offering, which was delayed and then downsized from $70 million to $20 million. But the ambivalence investors were showing for the company seemed to be changing the week of Dec. 14, when a string of good news--much of it related to its endeavors in equine health--pushed the company's stock up 15% to $2.06 by the close of trading on Friday.

Jaguar CEO Lisa Conte

First the San Francisco company announced it had completed enrollment of a proof-of-concept trial of SB-300, a drug it is developing to treat gastrointestinal ulcers in horses. Owners often treat ulcers with proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole, but those drugs can be ineffective and "these lesions can compromise athletic performance," said Jaguar CEO Lisa Conte in a press release. The company expects to release results from the study in February.

On Friday, Jaguar announced positive results from a study of Neonorm Foal, its oral paste for treating diarrhea in young horses. The company said that 85% of treated animals responded to the product, versus 35% of foals that received placebo. Jaguar launched the product in the U.S. earlier this month.

Both SB-300 and Neonorm Foal contain a botanical extract derived from the Croton lechleri tree. Jaguar is developing several drugs for livestock, cats and dogs that contain the same ingredient. Its version of Neonorm for calves brought in $78,000 in sales in the third quarter--but it failed to cushion the research-heavy company's net loss, which widened year over year from $2.7 million to $2.9 million.

Jaguar has also announced a change among its top ranks. The company moved its chief financial officer, John Kallassy, into the role of chief operating officer and hired Karen Wright to replace him. Wright is a 30-year biotech veteran who did stints at a variety of companies, including Genentech, Veracyte ($VCYT) and Clene Nanomedicine, according to a press release from Jaguar.

Whether Jaguar can maintain its new momentum on Wall Street is an open question. Investors' hopes are resting largely on Canalevia, its lead investigational drug for treating diarrhea in dogs. Conte has promised them that if all goes well at the FDA, Canalevia will be on the market in 2016. Still, resources are tight: The company had to lock up $8 million in debt financing over the summer to extend its cash runway.

- here's the release on SB-300
- access the news on Neonorm Foal here
- read more about Wright here

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