Movers and Shakers in Biotech: Global Blood Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:GBT) and Eleven Biotherapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:EBIO)

It’s the start of a new week in biotech, and a number of potential catalysts promise to inject some volatility into the space going forward. A few companies are already moving, based on close of the week news from last week. It is likely that these companies will move again today, so ahead of the open in the US, here is a look at two of the biotechs to watch – Global Blood Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:GBT) and Eleven Biotherapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:EBIO).

Global Blood Therapeutics

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Let’s kick things off with Global Blood Therapeutics. The company just reported second-quarter earnings, and put in a loss for the period, but markets aren’t focusing on the bottom line right now. What’s more important is the company’s pipeline, and from a development perspective, things look good. It’s lead compound, GBT440, is under investigation for the potential treatment of sickle cell disease (SCD), and data to date suggests some strong efficacy for the drug. Specifically, data from a 90-day phase 1/2 demonstrated that all patients who received a 700 mg per day administration of GBT440 showed a positive hematologic response (a leading indicator of efficacy in the sickle cell space) and the drug didn’t present any real safety of tolerability issues. The company also initiated a phase 2a study to investigate efficacy and safety in adolescence. This data hit press earlier in the year, but its repeated release has proved the catalyst behind a secondary boost. Global is also good from a cash perspective. Oftentimes, development stage biotech companies will need to dilute their current shareholders in order to raise capital to fund development. However, Global reported that it has $231.9 million cash on hand as of June 30, 2016. Admittedly, the majority of this cash came from a recently completed dilutive raise, but it means that going forward the company is unlikely to have to raise more capital – at least from a completion of the ongoing trials perspective.

Based on the release, Global Blood Therapeutics gained more than 17% to trade at current levels juts shy of $22 a share.

Eleven Biotherapeutics

Moving on, let’s look at Eleven. Again, this one is an earnings and update driven move, with the company reporting its second-quarter 2016 financials at the end of last week. Eleven recorded a small amount of revenues derived from corporation, but just as with Global Blood Therapeutics, these aren’t the numbers that markets are focusing on. Instead, the company gained based on its collaboration deal with Roche Holding Ltd. (ADR) (OTCMKTS:RHHBY), and the updates related to this collaboration presented in the latest release.

Specifically, the IND for the company’s lead ocular degeneration drug EBI 031 became effective during the period, which triggered a $22.5 million milestone payment from Roche to Eleven, which will underwrite the forward development of the drug and set it up to receive further milestones near term. These milestones could total to $262.5 million if the drug reaches commercialization and the company can execute on a successful sales strategy, so the activation of the IND is a big step forward.

Unlike Global Blood Therapeutics, Eleven is pretty low on cash – around $8 million reported as of June 30, 2016 – and so these development related milestones are going to be instrumental to the company’s ability to fund its operations across the coming few years.

Even with these milestones, however, chances are we will see some level of dilation going forward. The company suggested in its latest update that the cash on hand and the pending payments from Roche (which amount to around $30 million when both the above-mentioned $22.5 million and a $7.5 million upfront payment are lumped together) will be sufficient to fund its operations – to quote – into 2017. This is a pretty high burn rate for company of this size, so we will probably be looking at some level of capital raise next year. Markets don’t seem to be too concerned about this potential dilution right now, however, and buy volume boosted Eleven’s market capitalization by just short of 17% on Friday. After hours, the company gained a further percentage point, and we see this as indicative of more strength heading into this week’s open.

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