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Conatus Poster at EASL Meeting Today Addresses Safety of Caspase Inhibition in Cancer Treatment

SAN DIEGO, April 15, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:CNAT) announced that a poster addressing results in both ex vivo cell culture and in vivo mouse models of hepatocellular carcinoma with IDN-7314, an orally active pan-caspase inhibitor, is being presented today at The International Liver Congress™ 2016, the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) in Barcelona, Spain, April 13-17, 2016.

The poster (#FRI-078) entitled, “The potent pan-caspase inhibitor IDN-7314 does not affect tumor growth rate nor does it antagonize the efficacy of sorafenib in models of hepatocellular carcinoma,” will be displayed today, Friday, April 15, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. CET, and will be attended by presenting author Patricia C. Contreras, Ph.D., Vice President, Preclinical Development at Conatus and lead author on the poster, during a scheduled poster session.

A late breaker oral presentation (#LBO5) entitled, “Emricasan (IDN-6556) orally for three months in patients with cirrhosis and Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) scores 11-18 improves clinical parameters of cirrhosis in patients with baseline MELD score ≥15,” will be delivered on Saturday, April 16, at 5:00 p.m. CET, by Catherine Frenette, M.D., Medical Director of Liver Transplantation at Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, CA, and a principal investigator in the company’s multicenter Phase 2 Liver Cirrhosis clinical trial of emricasan.

Summary of Caspase Inhibitor Hepatocellular Carcinoma Poster
IDN-7314, an irreversible orally active pan-caspase inhibitor closely related to the company’s lead compound IDN-6556 (emricasan), was evaluated alone and in combination with liver cancer standard-of-care sorafenib treatment in both a human liver cancer cell culture and a human liver cancer implanted and established in mice. In the cell culture studies, IDN-7314 had no effect on cancer cell viability and no decrease in sorafenib efficacy. In mice, IDN-7314 had no effect compared to placebo on tumor growth and no decrease in sorafenib efficacy. The authors concluded that inhibition of caspases by IDN-7314 does not affect the growth rate of established human liver tumors in mice, and does not affect the anti-tumor activity of sorafenib in models of human liver cancer, providing experimental evidence that directly addresses theoretical concerns regarding caspase inhibition and cancer promotion. The full poster is available in the Preclinical Data section of the Conatus website at www.conatuspharma.com.

“With these latest results, we are pleased to add to the growing body of data supporting the safety of caspase inhibition,” said Alfred P. Spada, Ph.D., Executive Vice President of Research and Development and Chief Scientific Officer of Conatus. “Previous studies with emricasan have demonstrated: 1) no evidence of tumorigenic activity in regulatory carcinogenicity studies in mice genetically predisposed to develop cancer; 2) no evidence of tumorigenic activity after chronic dosing in healthy rodents and primates; 3) no effect on mechanistically relevant markers of caspase activity or apoptosis in healthy humans; and 4) no difference from placebo in cancer incidence in more than 650 humans treated to date. The current caspase inhibitor studies demonstrated no change in tumor growth rate and no impact on the cancer treatment effect of sorafenib in established, implanted liver cancer tumors in mice. We believe that these data directly address the lingering theoretical concern linking caspase inhibition with cancer.”

About Conatus Pharmaceuticals
Conatus is a biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of novel medicines to treat liver disease. Conatus is developing its lead compound, emricasan, for the treatment of patients with chronic liver disease. Emricasan is a first-in-class, orally active pan-caspase inhibitor designed to reduce the activity of enzymes that mediate inflammation and apoptosis. Conatus believes that by reducing the activity of these enzymes, emricasan has the potential to interrupt the disease progression across the spectrum of liver disease. For additional information, please visit www.conatuspharma.com.

Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this press release are forward looking statements, including statements regarding: the ability of the IDN-7314 data in preclinical models of hepatocellular carcinoma to address theoretical caspase inhibition cancer concerns; and emricasan’s potential to reduce caspase activity and interrupt disease progression across the spectrum of liver disease. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terms such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “could,” “intend,” “target,” “project,” “contemplates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “potential” or “continue” or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this press release and are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including: Conatus’ ability to initiate and successfully complete current and future clinical trials; the risk that the preclinical results may not be predictive of future clinical results; the uncertainty of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s and other regulatory agencies’ approval processes and other regulatory requirements; and those risks described in Conatus’ prior press releases and in the periodic reports it files with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The events and circumstances reflected in Conatus’ forward-looking statements may not be achieved or occur and actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Except as required by applicable law, Conatus does not plan to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements contained herein, whether as a result of any new information, future events, changed circumstances or otherwise.

MEDIA: David Schull Russo Partners, LLC (858) 717-2310 David.Schull@RussoPartnersLLC.com INVESTORS: Alan Engbring Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc. (858) 376-2637 aengbring@conatuspharma.com

Source:Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc.