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OncoCyte Q1 Net Loss Up 2 Percent

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – OncoCyte said after the close of the market on Tuesday that its 2019 Q1 net loss rose about two percent year over year, as the firm nears the launch of its non-invasive lung cancer detection test, DetermaVu.

The liquid biopsy firm's net loss for the three months ended March 31, 2019 was $3.9 million, or $.08 per share, compared to a net loss of $3.8 million, or $.12 per share, in the same quarter last year, slightly beating the consensus Wall Street estimate of a loss of $.09 per share.

OncoCyte's R&D expenses in Q1 dropped 13 percent year over year to $1.3 million from $1.5 million in Q1 2018. Its SG&A spending rose 8 percent to $2.7 million from $2.4 million in the same period last year, reflecting savings on sales and marketing but higher personnel and related expenses, including $300,000 in stock-based compensation associated with grants of equity awards.

The firm ended the quarter with $39.3 million in cash and cash equivalents, and marketable securities valued at $606,000.

The company did not report any revenues for the quarter.

"We continued to make great strides advancing DetermaVu," OncoCyte President and CEO William Annett said in a statement. "In addition to the previously reported positive results of our R&D validation study, we recently announced positive results from our analytical validation study … [and] we have moved quickly into the next phase," he added, which is a CLIA validation effort.

Following that will be the final study to support launch of the test, a 440-patient blinded prospective clinical validation.

According to Annett, the company continues to anticipate commercializing DetermaVu in the second half of this year.

"In parallel, we have begun to develop plans to explore the utility of [the test] in other solid tumor cancer indications," he added.

During a call discussing the firm's earnings, Annett added that OncoCyte will present results from the R&D validation study as a late-breaking abstract at the American Thoracic Society 2019 international conference next week. This will include top-line data that the company has already reported, as well as additional details about patient characteristics and a comparison of the predictive ability of DetermaVu versus standard clinical factors.

According to Annett, the company continues to anticipate commercializing DetermaVu in the second half of this year and is already beginning work to identify next steps for further test menu development.

The company completed a successful equity raise of $37 million earlier this year, which leaves it "well positioned" to complete development and commence commercialization of DetermaVu while also beginning the development of an expanded R&D program for other cancer indications, Annett said.

He added that that OncoCyte is confident its immune gene expression approach can have utility in other tumor types. Although asked by several analysts on the call what the most likely candidates are for the firm's next target, company officials declined to comment.

In morning trade on the Nasdaq, shares were up about 2 percent at $4.38.