With the Thanksgiving holiday period approaching, we’re going to have a shorter week than normal in the stock markets but this doesn’t mean that things will be quiet in the biotechnology space. A number of companies moved towards the end of last week on some fresh inputs and there’s a full slate of early week releases set to hit press over the coming few days.
Here’s a look at two of the companies that moved towards the end of last week with a discussion of what’s moving each and where we are looking for these companies to go near term.
The companies that are in our crosshairs for the session are ARCA biopharma, Inc. (NASDAQ:ABIO) and Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG).
So, let’s kick things off with ARCA.
This one’s a two-pronged move.
The company announced at the end of last week that it has picked up a fresh patent in Europe, rooted in one of its lead assets. The patent is for treating cardiovascular disease and conditions with a thiol-substituted isosorbide mononitrate based on genetic targeting.
This patent news served up a bit of positive sentiment when it hit press and the company picked up a couple of percentage points on the development. What investors are really looking for, however, is some data from a development program that’s set up to investigate the potential for the asset in question to target atrial fibrillation-heart failure.
The data from the trial is set to hit press at some point during the first quarter of 2018. This recent news, then, has served to drum up some express interest in the stock in anticipation of the upcoming data release and – as a result – we’re seeing some speculative volume inflow and some concurrent price gains.
Whether the data will hit press as positive remains to be seen, but there’s some pretty strong early-stage data already in place and the upcoming report aims to build on this data in a phase IIb investigation.
Moving on, let’s look at Celgene.
Technically, this one involves two companies – the just mentioned Celgene and bluebird bio, Inc. (NASDAQ:BLUE). The two companies are working on the development of a drug called bb2121, which is currently under investigation in trials in patients with previously treated patients with multiple myeloma.
The drug is a CAR-T therapy, which in and of itself is enough to get markets excited about its potential. These drugs harness the patient’s own immune system to promote the killing of cancer cells and – in doing so – have been shown to increase survival time in the patients in question. Whether bb2121 will be able to do that remains to be seen, but some early stage data that hit press at the start of this year pointed towards some potentially strong efficacy and there’s some updated data set to be presented at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) during an oral presentation on December 11.
Markets are looking to this event and the updated data as potentially compounding the strong sentiment surrounding the program but it’s not this data that qualifies the company (or, more accurately, companies) for a position on this list. Instead, it’s a bit of news relating to designation for the asset.
According to the Celgene press department, bb2121 has been granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation (BTD) by the FDA and PRIME eligibility by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
These sorts of designations not only serve to help the company (and the drug, specifically) clear some of the hurdles associated with the standard development pathway but also to allow for a degree of advantage when (if) the drug hits markets in the US. As such, and as is to be expected, both Celgene and bluebird are trading up on their respective pre-announcement market capitalizations.
Celgene closed out on Friday for just shy of a percentage point up on its Friday morning open pricing and bluebird is up two percentage points on the news. This doesn’t seem like a lot but when you consider that these are multi-billion dollar companies (bluebird was valued at just shy of $8 billion at last count and Celgene at a huge $81 billion) a couple of percentage points can make a big difference to overarching valuation.
We expect both Celgene and bluebird to continue to strengthen during the early part of this week.