36px) Fz(25px)--sm Fz(32px) Mb(17px)--sm Mb(20px) Mb(30px)--lg Ff($ff-primary) Lts($lspacing-md) Fw($fweight) Fsm($fsmoothing) Fsmw($fsmoothing) Fsmm($fsmoothing) Wow(bw)" data-reactid="3">4 Biotech Stocks to Watch This Quarter
Biotech Stocks The biotech sector could easily continue to grow. Why? The long-term trends that have made the sector an outperformer in the market over the past five years remain in place. Biotechnology stocks continue to maintain a strong pace amid phase trials, new leadership and big investments from insiders.
Before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the biotech industry itself was in a downward trend with many expecting Hillary Clinton to become president and put pressure on big pharma. Once President Trump took office, biotechnology stocks took on a much brighter spotlight. This has been clearly evidenced by the dramatic shift in the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index (NBI). The index itself has increased by as much as 33% after hitting new highs earlier in July.
In line with this, the Nasdaq Biotech Index (in blue, above) continues to outpace both the S&P500 (in green) and the Nasdaq (in red). The regulatory environment in the U.S. leans in favor of biotechnology, with the Food and Drug Administration offering fast-track approval for some breakthrough drugs, especially those targeting rare diseases.
Oxis International Inc. (OXIS), for example, develops and commercializes innovative immunotherapeutics and has a robust portfolio. Oxis has a portfolio of next-generation cancer initiatives and its lead drug candidate, OXS-1550. In fact, the first patient has begun treatment in a FDA-approved Phase 2 clinical trial of its cancer therapy.
Dr. Daniel Vallera, director of the section on Molecular Cancer Therapeutics at the University of Minnesota Cancer Center, helped develop OXS-1550. He commented on the drug.
“The initiation of Phase 2 patient treatment is a key opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of this promising cancer therapy,” Vallera said. “This brings us one step closer to an important alternative to invasive chemotherapies and costly cell therapies, Kite Pharma, Inc. (KITE), Juno Therapeutics (JUNO), for cancer patients.”
Oxis recently announced it has signed a binding letter of intent agreement to acquire Georgetown Translational Pharmaceuticals Inc. Formal completion of this agreement will allow Oxis to acquire Georgetown Translational’s leading candidate, Pain Brake. This therapy is a pain relief drug expected to be submitted to the FDA as a new drug application in 15 to 18 months.
Dr. Kathleen Clarence-Smith, co-founder of Chase Pharmaceuticals Corp. (acquired by Allergan PLC (AGN)), will become the new CEO of Oxis and the company has also proposed a name change to GT Biopharma Inc. as part of the transaction.
Similar to Oxis, Moleculin Biotech Inc. (MBRX) also recently announced adding members to the company. In late July, Moleculin appointed John M. Climaco as an independent member of the board of directors.
“We are pleased to have John join our Board as he brings a wealth of international business successes managing complex operations in addition to his well-established capabilities in capital markets, product commercialization and business development,” Moleculin CEO Walter Klemp said.
Recently, the company has been focused on providing support to help jumpstart the launch of a physician-sponsored investigational new drug (IND) application to study the company’s WP1066. This drug is designed for the treatment of adult brain tumors (glioblastoma).
“By providing additional guidance and data, we think we can help accelerate the ability of the physician investigator to respond to FDA’s requests in a way that will allow the study to begin, which we believe could position WP1066 for a brain tumor trial this year,” Klemp said in a press release.
Moleculin share prices have jumped since late June to as high as $3.75. On July 31, the stock closed at $2.99, which was up over 100% since July 10.
Another biotech stock in focus is BioLineRX Ltd. (BLRX). The company is in its clinical stages and focusing on oncology and immunology. It is currently working on a combination trial of BL-8040 (the company’s lead oncology platform) and atezolizumab in order to develop a cancer immunotherapy combination. Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, has begun a Phase 1b/2 study for BL-8040 in order to evaluate the combination in metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.