Watch shares of iCAD

iCAD announces first metastatic brain tumor treated with Xoft Axxent eBx System

iCAD (ICAD) announced the first metastatic brain tumor was treated in the U.S. with intraoperative radiation therapy, or IORT, using the Xoft Axxent Electronic Brachytherapy, or eBx, System.

This procedure is the start of a clinical trial on IORT for patients with large brain metastases treated with neurological resection with the Xoft System.

iCAD reports positive brain tumor data, Stockwinners

The Xoft System is also currently being studied for the treatment of other types of brain tumors in institutions worldwide, including the European Medical Center.

Positive preliminary clinical data on Xoft IORT for the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma, or GBM, was presented at the European Association of Neurosurgical Societies, or EANS.

The Xoft System is made by iCAD, Stockwinners

In a matched pair study, 30 patients were treated for recurrent GBM.

The IORT group was treated with a single fraction of radiation immediately following surgical resection, without chemotherapy or temozolomide following surgery.

The comparison group was treated with routine postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy +/- concomitant or sequential EBRT. Median overall survival, or OS, in group A was 24 months; OS for group B was 21 months.

As of September 2019, nine patients were still alive from group A, whereas none of the patients in group B survived.

A retrospective analysis published in World Neurosurgery examined the repeat resection and the various methods of IORT for the treatment of malignant brain gliomas, including high-energy linear accelerators and modern, integrated brachytherapy solutions using solid and balloon applicators.

iCAD, Inc. provides image analysis, workflow solutions, and radiation therapy for the early identification and treatment of cancer in the United States and internationally. It operates through two segments, Cancer Detection and Cancer Therapy. The company provides electronic brachytherapy (eBX) products, including Axxent eBx systems for the treatment of early stage breast cancer, endometrial cancer, cervical cancer, and skin cancer, as well as for treating other cancers or conditions where radiation therapy is indicated comprising intraoperative radiation therapy.

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Miragen Therapeutics shares soar on leukemia data

Miragen Therapeutics announces data from Phase 1 trial of cobomarsen

Miragen Therapeutics (MGEN) announced new efficacy and safety data from the ATLL arm of its ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial of cobomarsen, which will be presented at the 12th Annual T-Cell Lymphoma Forum in La Jolla, CA, which is taking place from January 30th to February 1st.

Miragen shares soar on its test data, Stockwinners

Of note are the data from the subtype of aggressive ATLL patients (Adult T-Cell Leukemia Lymphoma (ATLL)) who at study entry had persistent residual disease after chemotherapy or other therapy.

In the trial, six patients of this subtype had an MST of 26 months with three patients still on treatment at the time of data analysis.

Adult T-Cell Leukemia Lymphoma does not have a cure, Stockwinners

The Company was most encouraged, however, by the observed biomarker activity showing that disease stabilization is marked by a decrease in biomarkers of tumor cells activation and proliferation, providing evidence of the biological mechanism effect of cobomarsen on disease stabilization.

The Company is evaluating cobomarsen in an ongoing Phase 1 basket trial of cancers where the disease process appears to be correlated with an increase in miR-155 levels, including ATLL, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Today’s announcement includes results for the first 15 patients with aggressive subtypes of ATLL who were treated with three doses of cobomarsen by intravenous infusion, including 600, 900 and 1200 mg doses.

The preliminary results from this first-in-human Phase 1 clinical trial of the miR-155 inhibitor, cobomarsen, in patients with ATLL was observed to improve disease stabilization and reduce biomarker expression associated with ATLL cellular proliferation and activation in patients with persistent residual disease after chemotherapy and other therapies.

Of the 15 ATLL patients treated with cobomarsen, nine were actively relapsing at the time of screening, and six had residual nodal or circulating leukemic disease after chemotherapy or other systemic therapies.

For these six patients, the duration of cobomarsen treatment ranged from 4.5 to 23.7 months, with three patients still on study as of October 17, 2019.

MST of these patients was 26 months, compared with the 7.4 months MST from a retrospective external historical cohort based on a literature search of peer-reviewed papers. The Company compiled a historical external control which includes a series of studies with ATLL patients treated with standard of care over the past 10 years.

These studies included more than 6,000 ATLL patients. The Company calculated an MST from diagnosis of 7.4 months for patients with the aggressive ATLL subtypes, regardless of the type of therapy or number of therapies administered.

Five of these six patients treated with cobomarsen were alive as of the October 17, 2019 data analysis. In the trial, disease stabilization was marked by an observed decrease in Ki-67, a biomarker of cell proliferation, as well as other biomarkers of cell activation on circulating tumor cells, providing evidence of the biological mechanism effect of cobomarsen on disease stabilization.

For the clinical trial, the Company established a retrospective external historical cohort based on a literature search of peer-reviewed papers which reported MST from diagnosis and PFS on large cohorts of ATLL patients over the last decade.

A total of 16 papers describing unique cohorts of patients from Japan, the United States, South America and Europe were included in the MST retrospective analysis, of which 12 included data regarding MST for combined aggressive subtypes and eight reported MST for both acute and lymphomatous sub-types separately but not for the combined aggressive subtypes.

The number of patients included in each publication varied from 54 to 1,792, for a total of 6,440 patients.

Chronic administration of cobomarsen has been generally safe and well tolerated with a favorable safety profile over one year of dosing on a weekly basis.

There were 196 total reported adverse events as of October 17, 2019, with only 22% of the total AEs considered possibly related to study drug, and 86% of the total AEs considered mild or moderate. 14% of the total AEs were Grade 3 or 4 and most resolved within 11 days.

With no drug related deaths and only two serious adverse events occurring in the same patient and deemed possibly related to the study drug, the observed safety profile of cobomarsen in ATLL through October 17, 2019 appears to be benign and well tolerated with chronic dosing.

MGEN closed at $1.69, last traded at $2.80.

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Alkermes submits NDA for its schizophrenia drug

Alkermes says FDA accepts ALKS 3831 NDA for review, assigns Nov. 15 PDUFA date

Alkermes (ALKS) announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has accepted for review the company’s New Drug Application, or NDA, seeking approval of ALKS 3831 for the treatment of schizophrenia and for the treatment of bipolar I disorder.

Alkermes announces FDA Refusal to File letter received for ALKS 5461. Stockwinners
Alkermes announces filing on NDA for ALKS3831, Stockwinners

ALKS 3831 is an investigational, novel, once-daily, oral atypical antipsychotic drug candidate designed to provide the efficacy of olanzapine while mitigating olanzapine-associated weight gain.

The NDA has been assigned a Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA, target action date of Nov. 15, 2020.

“The acceptance of the NDA for ALKS 3831 marks an important milestone toward our goal of offering a new treatment option to people living with schizophrenia or bipolar I disorder. The ALKS 3831 development program builds on Alkermes’ commitment to developing new therapeutic options that seek to address unmet needs of patients in large therapeutic areas. We believe ALKS 3831 has the potential to be a meaningful new offering for patients with these serious and complex mental health disorders, and we look forward to engaging with the FDA throughout the NDA review process,” said Craig Hopkinson, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Alkermes.

Alkermes plc researches, develops, and commercializes pharmaceutical products to address unmet medical needs of patients in various therapeutic areas in the United States, Ireland, and internationally.

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Watch Jazz Pharmaceuticals!

Jazz Pharmaceuticals receives EU Marketing Authorization for Sunosi

Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ) announced that the European Commission approved Sunosi to improve wakefulness and reduce excessive daytime sleepiness in adults with narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea whose EDS has not been satisfactorily treated by primary OSA therapy, such as continuous positive airway pressure.

Jazz should be in play, Stockwinners

Sunosi is the first dual-acting dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor approved to treat EDS in adults living with narcolepsy or OSA and the only licensed therapy in the European Union for the treatment of EDS in adults living with OSA.

Once-daily Sunosi is approved with doses of 75 mg and 150 mg for people with narcolepsy and doses of 37.5 mg, 75 mg and 150 mg for patients with OSA.

Sunosi is approved in Europe, Stockwinners

At Week 12 of the Phase 3 clinical trial, 150 mg of solriamfetol for narcolepsy patients and both 75 mg and 150 mg doses for OSA patients demonstrated improvements in wakefulness compared to placebo as assessed via the maintenance of wakefulness test from approximately one hour post-dose through approximately nine hours post-dose.

The European Commission approval extends to all European Union Member States, as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

The Marketing Authorization Application for Sunosi is based on data from four randomized placebo-controlled studies included in the Treatment of Obstructive sleep apnea and Narcolepsy Excessive Sleepiness clinical trial program.

Data from the studies in the TONES program demonstrated the superiority of solriamfetol relative to placebo.

The Marketing Authorisation Application (MAA) for Sunosi is based on data from four randomised placebo-controlled studies included in the Treatment of Obstructive sleep apnea and Narcolepsy Excessive Sleepiness (TONES) clinical trial program. Data from the studies in the TONES program demonstrated the superiority of solriamfetol relative to placebo.

JAZZ closed at $151.05.

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Argenx issues positive guidance, shares rise

Argenx says beginning 2020 in an ‘exciting position’

In a regulatory filing, Argenx (ARGX) provided strategic outlook for 2020 outlining key priorities for its broad pipeline and path towards achieving its ‘argenx 2021’ integrated commercial vision.

Argenx issues positive guidance, Stockwinners

“We begin 2020 in an exciting position, having met all our objectives for our clinical programs.

This includes the completion of enrollment of our Phase 3 ADAPT trial of efgartigimod in gMG, the launch of key efgartigimod clinical trials in ITP and CIDP, and the initiation of cusatuzumab clinical trials in two AML settings with Janssen.

In addition, we’re announcing today positive proof-of-concept data for efgartigimod in PV, our third ‘beachhead’ indication, further demonstrating our initial development strategy of targeting pathogenic autoantibodies and creating commercial opportunities in several therapeutic areas.

Looking forward to the remainder of 2020, we plan up to five registrational efgartigimod trials and further expansion of the cusatuzumab global development plan with Janssen,” said Tim Van Hauwermeiren, Chief Executive Officer of argenx.

“Most importantly, we are continuing to execute on the ‘argenx 2021’ vision to become a global, integrated immunology company with our first launch of efgartigimod in gMG expected in 2021.

At the core of this growth strategy is a commitment to expanding our early-stage pipeline with immunology breakthroughs and advancing our late-stage candidates while extending our reach to bring first-in-class medicines to patients,” continued Van Hauwermeiren.

As part of its 2021 vision, Argenx highlights: leadership in FcRn and its therapeutics immunology potential; launch of MyRealWorld MG; and a “strong” financial foundation. In addition, Argenx reported “positive” proof-of-concept data in PV, the third beachhead indication as part of the broad efgartigimod development strategy.

Argenx has a close relationship with Janssen, Stockwinners

Within its neuromuscular franchise, Argenx is evaluating efgartigimod in gMG and efgartigmod in CIDP; within its hematology/oncology franchise, it is evaluating efgartigimdo in ITP and cusatuzumab in collaboration with Janssen (JNJ).

ARGX shares are up 5.2% to $165.00 in Thursday’s trading.

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Axsome Therapeutics reports positive migraine data

Axsome Therapeutics announces AXS-07 met primary, secondary endpoints

Axsome Therapeutics (AXSM) announced that AXS-07, Axsome’s novel, oral, multi-mechanistic investigational medicine for the acute treatment of migraine, met the two regulatory co-primary endpoints and significantly improved migraine pain and most bothersome symptoms as compared to placebo in the MOMENTUM Phase 3 trial.

Axsome reports positive migraine data, Stockwinners

AXS-07 also met the key secondary endpoint, demonstrating statistically significant superiority to the active comparator rizatriptan on sustained freedom from migraine pain.

MOMENTUM was a randomized, double-blind, placebo- and active-controlled trial which enrolled only patients with a history of inadequate response to prior acute migraine treatments, assessed using the Migraine Treatment Optimization Questionnaire, or mTOQ-4.

A total of 1,594 patients were randomized in a 2:2:2:1 ratio to AXS-07, rizatriptan, MoSEIC, meloxicam, or placebo, to treat a single migraine attack of moderate or severe intensity.

In addition to a history of inadequate response, enrolled patients exhibited a high rate of characteristics that are strongly associated with poor treatment outcomes including cutaneous allodynia, severe migraine pain intensity, obesity and morning migraine.

The study was conducted pursuant to a FDA special protocol assessment, or SPA.

AXS-07 met the two regulatory co-primary endpoints by demonstrating, with high statistical significance, a greater percentage of patients as compared to placebo achieving pain freedom and absence of most bothersome symptom two hours after dosing.

Superiority of AXS-07 to rizatriptan and MoSEIC meloxicam was established as specified in the SPA, by demonstration of a greater percentage of AXS-07 patients achieving sustained pain freedom from two to 24 hours after dosing, compared to rizatriptan and MoSEIC meloxicam, as well as to placebo.

The positive results on both co-primary endpoints along with the demonstration of component contribution support the filing of an NDA for AXS-07 in the acute treatment of migraine.

AXS-07 provided greater and more sustained migraine pain relief compared to placebo and rizatriptan, which translated to a significant reduction in rescue medication use for AXS-07 compared to placebo and rizatriptan.

The percentage of patients experiencing sustained pain relief from two to 24 hours after dosing was 53.3% for AXS-07, compared to 33.5% for placebo and 43.9% for rizatriptan.

Sustained pain relief from two to 48 hours was also experienced by a statistically significantly greater proportion of AXS-07 patients, compared to placebo and rizatriptan patients.

Rescue medication was used by 23.0% of AXS-07 patients, compared to 43.5% of placebo and 34.7% of rizatriptan patients. AXS-07 provided rapid relief of migraine pain with the percentage of patients achieving pain relief with AXS-07 being numerically greater than with rizatriptan at every time point measured starting at 15 minutes, and statistically significantly greater than with rizatriptan by 60 minutes.

The proportions of patients experiencing pain relief 1.5 hours after dosing were 60.5% for AXS-07 compared to 52.5% for rizatriptan and 48.3% for placebo.

AXS-07 was statistically significantly superior to rizatriptan on several other secondary endpoints including Patient Global Impression of Change and return to normal functioning at 24 hours.

AXS-07 was safe and well tolerated in the trial.

The most commonly reported adverse events with AXS-07 were nausea, dizziness and somnolence, none of which occurred at a rate greater than placebo or greater than 3%.

There was one serious adverse event in the AXS-07 arm which was deemed by the investigator not to be related to study drug.

The MOMENTUM study was conducted pursuant to an SPA with the FDA.

The SPA provides agreement that the overall MOMENTUM trial design and planned analysis adequately address objectives that, if met, will support the regulatory submission for approval of AXS-07 for the indication of acute treatment of migraine in adults with or without aura.

Based on FDA feedback, Axsome believes that MOMENTUM will be the only efficacy trial required to support an NDA filing for AXS-07 for the acute treatment of migraine.

Axsome plans to file the NDA in the second half of 2020. AXS-07 is a novel, oral, rapidly absorbed, multi-mechanistic investigational medicine for the acute treatment of migraine, consisting of MoSEIC meloxicam and rizatriptan.

AXS-07 is thought to act by inhibiting CGRP release, reversing CGRP-mediated vasodilation, and inhibiting neuro-inflammation, pain signal transmission, and central sensitization.

Axsome’s MoSEIC technology significantly increases the speed of absorption of the meloxicam component after oral administration while maintaining a long plasma half-life.

AXS-07 is covered by 21 issued U.S. and international patents providing protection out to 2036, and Axsome maintains worldwide rights.

Detailed study results, including additional secondary endpoints, will be submitted for presentation at upcoming medical meetings and for publication.

AXS-07 is also being evaluated in the INTERCEPT Phase 3 trial which is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the early treatment of migraine with AXS-07.

In contrast to the ongoing MOMENTUM trial in which patients with a history of inadequate response treated migraine attacks once they have become of moderate or severe intensity, in the INTERCEPT trial, patients are to administer AXS-07 at the earliest sign of migraine pain.

AXSM closed at $101.98.

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BeiGene announces acceptance of supplemental NDA in China for REVLIMID

BeiGene announces acceptance of supplemental NDA in China for REVLIMID for the treatment of lymphoma

BeiGene (BGNE) announced that the China National Medical Products Administration has accepted a supplemental new drug application for #REVLIMID, in combination with rituximab, for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory indolent lymphoma.

BeiGene shares have been active lately, Stockwinners

REVLIMID was first approved in China in 2013 for the treatment of multiple myeloma in combination with dexamethasone, in adult patients who have received at least one prior therapy, and the label for the combination was expanded in 2018 to include adult patients with newly-diagnosed multiple myeloma who are not eligible for transplant.

REVLIMID used for the treatment of multiple myeloma, Stockwinners

It is currently marketed in China by BeiGene under an exclusive license from Celgene Logistics Sarl, a Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) company.

The sNDA is supported by a clinical, non-clinical, and chemistry, manufacturing and control data package, including the results from the pivotal Phase 3 AUGMENT study sponsored and conducted by Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Bristol-Myers treatment for colorectal cancer approved, Stockwinners
Bristol-Myers purchased Celgene and REVLIMID awhile back, Stockwinners

AUGMENT is a randomized, double-blind, multicenter trial in which a total of 358 patients with relapsed or refractory follicular or marginal zone lymphoma were randomized 1:1 to receive REVLIMID and rituximab or rituximab and placebo.

With a median follow-up of 28.3 months, R2 demonstrated clinically meaningful and statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival, evaluated by an independent review committee, relative to the control arm with a 54% reduction in the risk of progression or death.

The median PFS was 39.4 months for the R2 arm and 14.1 months for the control arm with an improvement by more than 2 years. Overall response rate, a secondary endpoint, was 78% in the R2 arm vs. 53% in the control arm, as assessed by the IRC.

Duration of response was significantly improved for R2 vs. control with median DoR of 37 vs. 22 months, respectively.

Bristol Meyers Comments on Celgene purchase, Stockwinners
Bristol Meyers Comments on Celgene purchase, Stockwinners

The most frequent adverse event in the R2 arm was neutropenia, vs. 22% in the control arm.

Additional commonly observed AEs in more than 20% of patients included diarrhea, constipation, cough, and fatigue. Adverse events that were reported at a higher rate in the R2 arm were neutropenia, constipation, leukopenia, anemia, thrombocytopenia and tumor flare.

BMY closed at $63.51. BGNE closed at $173.14.

See our other blogs about BeiGene.

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Epizyme’s Tazemetostat receives FDA’s okay

Epizyme says FDA advisory committee votes unanimously in favor of tazemetostat

Epizyme (EPZM) announced that the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted 11 – 0 in favor of the benefit-risk profile of tazemetostat as a treatment for patients with metastatic or locally advanced epithelioid sarcoma not eligible for curative surgery.

Epizyme shares halted ahead of FDA meeting, Stockwinners

“Today’s ODAC outcome is a significant step toward addressing the critical needs of ES patients.

This is a remarkable achievement marking the culmination of years of hard work by the entire Epizyme team. If approved, we will have the opportunity to change how patients with this devastating cancer are treated.

Our commercial-readiness is complete, and we look forward to finalizing our dialog with the FDA,” said Robert Bazemore, president and CEO of Epizyme.

Epizyme’s New Drug Application, or NDA, for tazemetostat is, an oral, first-in-class EZH2 inhibitor, for the treatment of patients with metastatic or locally advanced epithelioid sarcoma (ES) who are not eligible for curative surgery.

Epithelioid Sarcoma is a rare form of cancer, Stockwinners

The advisory committee vote will be non-binding, but FDA takes its recommendations into consideration when reviewing related applications for marketing approval.

ES is a rare and aggressive soft tissue sarcoma characterized by a loss of the INI1 protein. Patients are most commonly diagnosed as young adults, between 20 and 40 years of age, typically with no patients living past five years from diagnosis. ES becomes more aggressive after recurrence or once it has metastasized, with a typical survival of less than one year for patients with metastatic disease.

Epizyme, Inc. discovers, develops, and commercializes novel epigenetic medicines for patients with cancer and other diseases primarily in the United States.

EPZM halted at $18.19.

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Axsome shares soar on its depression drug

Axsome Therapeutics: AXS-05 achieves primary endpoint in Phase 3 trial, Shares jump 77%

Axsome Therapeutics (AXSM) announced that AXS-05, a novel, oral, investigational NMDA receptor antagonist with multimodal activity, met the primary endpoint and rapidly and significantly improved symptoms of depression in the GEMINI Phase 3 trial in major depressive disorder.

Axsome Therapeutics shares soar on its Gemini depression drug study, Stockwinners

The GEMINI study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center, U.S. trial, in which 327 adult patients with confirmed moderate to severe MDD were randomized to treatment with either AXS-05 or placebo once daily for the first 3 days and twice daily thereafter for a total of 6 weeks.

AXS-05 met the primary endpoint by demonstrating a highly statistically significant reduction in the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale total score compared to placebo at Week 6, with mean reductions from baseline of 16.6 points for AXS-05 and 11.9 points for placebo.

AXS-05 rapidly and durably improved depressive symptoms as compared to placebo with statistical significance on the MADRS total score demonstrated at Week 1, the earliest time point assessed, and at all time points thereafter.

Rates of remission from depression were statistically significantly greater for AXS-05 compared to placebo at Week 2 and at every time point thereafter, being achieved by 39.5% of AXS-05 patients compared to 17.3% of placebo patients at Week 6.

AXS-05 demonstrated rapid onset of action with statistically significant improvement as compared to placebo on numerous endpoints at Week 1, or only 4 days after the start of twice daily dosing.

Statistically significant improvements at Week 1 were observed for MADRS total score; Patient Global Impression-Improvement; Clinical Global Impression-Severity; Clinical Global Impression-Improvement; Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self-Rated; Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire-Short Form; and other endpoints.

On all secondary endpoints including the following, AXS-05 demonstrated statistically significant improvement at Week 6 compared to placebo, reflecting increasing treatment effects over time: clinical response on the MADRS total score; PGI-I; CGI-S; CGI-I; QIDS-SR-16; Sheehan Disability Scale; and Q-LES-Q-SF.

AXSM is up 77% to $82.66.

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Synthorx sold for $2.5 billion

Sanofi to acquire Synthorx for $68 per share in cash

Sanofi (SNY) and Synthorx (THOR) entered into a definitive agreement under which Sanofi will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Synthorx for $68 per share in cash, which represents an aggregate equity value of approximately $2.5B, on a fully diluted basis.

Synthorx sold for $2.5 billion, Stockwinners

The transaction was unanimously approved by both the Sanofi and Synthorx boards.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Sanofi will commence a cash tender offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Synthorx common stock for $68 per share in cash.

The $68 per share acquisition price represents a 172% premium to Synthorx’s closing price on December 6.

Following the successful completion of the tender offer, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sanofi will merge with Synthorx and the outstanding Synthorx shares not tendered in the tender offer will be converted into the right to receive the same $68 per share in cash paid in the tender offer.

The tender offer is expected to commence in December.

Sanofi plans to finance the transaction with cash on hand. Subject to the satisfaction or waiver of customary closing conditions, Sanofi expects to complete the acquisition in the first quarter of 2020.

“Synthorx’s Expanded Genetic Alphabet platform is expected to be a source for developing a differentiated therapeutic pipeline. Alone and in combination with other existing Sanofi platforms, including the Nanobody technology, it will enable the company to develop a wide range of novel biologics, including drug conjugates, protein fusions, and multi-specific biologics, with applications beyond oncology and extending to other therapeutic areas… The addition of THOR-707 and Synthorx’s other earlier-stage cytokine programs to Sanofi’s pipeline will enhance Sanofi’s position in oncology, and in immuno-oncology. We expect IL-2 to become a foundation of future IO-IO combinations as well as offering multiple combination opportunities with Sanofi’s clinical and pre-clinical oncology assets, including with PD-1, CD-38, and molecules that modulate effector T-cells and natural killer cells.”

THOR closed at $25.04, it last traded at $67.43. SNY closed at $46.03.

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ArQule sold for $2.7 billion

Merck to acquire ArQule for $20 per share

Merck (MRK) and ArQule (ARQL) announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement under which Merck, through a subsidiary, will acquire ArQule for $20 per share in cash for an approximate total equity value of $2.7B.

Merck buys ArQule for $2.7B, Stockwinners

ArQule’s lead investigational candidate, ARQ 531, is a novel, oral Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, or BTK, inhibitor currently in a Phase 2 dose expansion study for the treatment of B-cell malignancies.

BTK inhibition has been shown to prevent B-cell receptor signaling that is critical for the survival and proliferation of leukemic cells in many B-cell malignancies.

Merck presents results from Phase 3 KEYNOTE-426 study, Stockwinners
Merck buys ArQule, Stockwinners

ARQ 531 is a selective, reversible inhibitor that blocks both wild-type BTK and the C481S mutant form of the enzyme that is commonly associated with resistance to other BTK inhibitors.

In early clinical trials, ARQ 531 demonstrated a manageable safety profile and early signs of anti-tumor activity for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL, and Richter’s Transformation.

ArQule lead investigative drug is ARQ531

Final data from the Phase 1 study of ARQ 531 will be presented on December 9 at the 61st American Society of Hematology, or ASH.

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement announced, Merck, through a subsidiary, will initiate a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of ArQule.

The closing of the tender offer will be subject to certain conditions, including the tender of shares representing at least a majority of the total number of ArQule’s outstanding shares, the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary conditions.

Upon the successful completion of the tender offer, Merck’s acquisition subsidiary will be merged into ArQule, and any remaining shares of common stock of ArQule will be canceled and converted into the right to receive the same $20 per share price payable in the tender offer.

The transaction is expected to close early in Q1 of 2020.

ARQL closed at $9.66, last traded at $19.90.

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Audentes Therapeutics sold for $3 billion

Astellas to acquire Audentes for $60 per share in cash

Astellas Pharma (ALPMY) and Audentes Therapeutics (BOLD) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for Astellas to acquire Audentes at a price of $60.00 per share in cash, representing a total equity value of approximately $3B.

Under the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both Astellas and Audentes, Astellas will acquire Audentes through Asilomar Acquisition Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Astellas US Holding, Inc.

Gene Therapy pays off nicely for Audentes Therapeutics, Stockwinners

Asilomar will commence a tender offer for all outstanding shares of common stock of Audentes, for a price of $60.00 per share in cash.

Promptly upon successful completion of the Tender Offer, Asilomar will be merged into Audentes, and any remaining shares of common stock of Audentes will be canceled and converted into the right to receive the same $60.00 per share price.

Astellas pays $3 billion for Audentes Therapeutics, Stockwinners

The board of directors of Audentes has resolved to recommend that Audentes stockholders tender their shares to Astellas. Consummation of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including US antitrust clearance and the tender of a majority of Audentes’ outstanding shares of common stock.

The offer price represents a premium of 110% to Audentes’ closing share price of $28.61 on December 2, 2019.

The all-cash transaction is valued at approximately $3B including the purchase of all common shares, options, restricted stock units and other securities.

The Tender Offer period is expected to commence in the next few weeks and to expire 20 business days after its commencement, unless otherwise extended.

If the Tender Offer conditions are not satisfied, Astellas may be required to extend the Tender Offer under certain circumstances. Astellas is still reviewing the impact of a consummation of the transaction on its financial results for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020.

Audentes Therapeutics, Inc. focuses on developing and commercializing gene therapy products for patients living with serious, life-threatening rare diseases caused by single gene defects.

The company is developing AT132, which is in Phase I/II clinical studies for the treatment of X-linked myotubular myopathy (XLMTM); AT342 that is in Phase I/II clinical studies to treat crigler-najjar syndrome; AT845, which is in preclinical studies for the treatment of pompe disease; and AT307 to treat CASQ2 subtype of catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia. 

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ChemoCentryx shares soar on data

ChemoCentryx, VFMCRP say pivotal phase-III ADVOCATE trial met primary endpoints

Vifor Fresenius Medical Care Renal Pharma, or VFMCRP, and ChemoCentryx (CCXI) announced positive topline data from the pivotal phase-III ADVOCATE trial of avacopan, an orally administered selective complement 5a receptor inhibitor, for the treatment of patients with anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis (ANCA-associated vasculitis or ANCA vasculitis).

ChemoCentryx shares soar on its ANCA drug, Stockwinners

ANCA vasculitis is an autoimmune disease affecting small blood vessels in the body. It is caused by autoantibodies called ANCAs, or Anti-Neutrophilic Cytoplasmic Autoantibodies.

This global study, in which a total of 331 patients with ANCA vasculitis were enrolled, met both of its primary endpoints, disease remission at 26 weeks and sustained remission at 52 weeks, as assessed by the Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score, or BVAS.

Remission was defined as a BVAS score of zero and being off glucocorticoid treatment for ANCA vasculitis for at least the preceding four weeks.

BVAS remission at week 26 was achieved in 72.3% of the avacopan treated subjects vs. 70.1% of subjects in the glucocorticoid standard of care control group.

Sustained remission at 52 weeks was observed in 65.7% of the avacopan treated patients vs. 54.9% in the glucocorticoid standard of care control group, achieving both non-inferiority and superiority to glucocorticoid standard of care.

Importantly, subjects who received avacopan experienced additional benefits compared to those in the glucocorticoid standard of care control group.

These benefits, assessed as pre-specified secondary endpoints, include: Significant reduction in glucocorticoid-related toxicity; Significant improvement in kidney function in patients with renal disease at baseline; Improvements in health-related quality of life metrics.

The topline safety results revealed an acceptable safety profile in this serious and life threatening disease with fewer subjects having serious adverse events in the avacopan group than in the glucocorticoid standard of care control group.

A full analysis of the data is underway and expanded results are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. “These results exceed our expectations,” said Thomas J. Schall, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of ChemoCentryx.

“Today we mark the dawn of a new and historic period in the lives of ANCA vasculitis patients. This day we have for the first time demonstrated that a highly targeted therapy aimed at the very center of the ANCA disease process is superior to the traditional approach of broad immune suppression therapy; a therapy which the present findings may make obsolete. Until now ANCA vasculitis patients have had to endure regimens that contain chronic high doses of steroids and all their noxious effects, but with today’s data it is clear that the time of making patients sick with steroid therapy in an attempt to make their acute vasculitis better may at last be over. Working with our partner VFMCRP, we plan to make regulatory submissions for full marketing approval to both the European Medicines Agency and the FDA in 2020.”

CCXI is up $26.68 to $34.65

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CRISPR Therapeutics sharply higher on gene editing data

Crispr, Vertex announce interim data from first two patients treated with CTX001

CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (VRTX) announced positive, interim data from the first two patients with severe hemoglobinopathies treated with the investigational CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing therapy CTX001 in ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical trials.

Gene Editing shows promises in treating patients, Stockwinners

One patient with transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia received CTX001 in the first quarter of 2019 and data for this patient reflect nine months of safety and efficacy follow-up.

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Vertex and CRISPR report positive data, Stockwinners

One patient with severe sickle cell disease received CTX001 in mid-2019 and data for this patient reflect four months of safety and efficacy follow-up.

These studies are ongoing and patients will be followed for approximately two years following infusion.

Several additional patients have been enrolled and have had drug product manufactured across the two studies.

The patient with TDT has the beta0/IVS-I-110 genotype and required 16.5 transfusions per year before enrolling in the clinical study. The patient achieved neutrophil engraftment 33 days after CTX001 infusion and platelet engraftment 37 days after infusion.

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Two serious adverse events occurred, neither of which the principal investigator considered related to CTX001: pneumonia in the presence of neutropenia and veno-occlusive liver disease attributed to busulfan conditioning; both subsequently resolved.

At nine months after CTX001 infusion, the patient was transfusion independent and had total hemoglobin levels of 11.9 g/dL, 10.1 g/dL fetal hemoglobin, and 99.8% F-cells.

The patient with SCD experienced seven vaso-occlusive crises per year before enrolling in the clinical study. The patient achieved neutrophil and platelet engraftment 30 days after CTX001 infusion.

Three SAEs occurred, none of which the PI considered related to CTX001: sepsis in the presence of neutropenia, cholelithiasis, and abdominal pain, all of which resolved.

At four months after CTX001 infusion, the patient was free of VOCs and had total hemoglobin levels of 11.3 g/dL, 46.6% fetal hemoglobin, and 94.7% F-cells.

William Blair

The firm upgrades Crispr Therapeutics to Outperform after ‘impressive’ data .

William Blair analyst Raju Prasad upgraded Crispr Therapeutics to Outperform from Market Perform after the company presented initial results from the ongoing Phase I/II trials of CTX001 for the treatment of beta thalassemia and sickle cell disease.

The analyst says today’s data cut was “impressive” as it exceeds the 30% fetal hemoglobin threshold that he viewed as critical.

To date, Crispr has shown initial proof-of-concept in beta thalassemia and sickle cell that exceeded expectations and de-risks its wholly owned immuno-oncology platform, Prasad tells investors in a research note. Further, given the “optionality” of the CRISPR-Cas9 platform and potential cost-effectiveness when compared with lentiviral-based therapies, Crispr could be a potential takeout candidate, adds the analyst.

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Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs analyst Salveen Richter raised his 12-month price target for Crispr Therapeutics (CRSP) to $75 from $52 while keeping a Neutral rating on the shares.

The first clinical results from the ongoing CTX001 trial impress, Richter tells investors in a research note. The analyst, who cautions the data represents small patient numbers, is “highly encouraged” with the profile of CTX001 and sees today’s positive data as initial validation of Crispr’s ex-vivo gene editing platform.

Roth Capital

Roth Capital analyst Tony Butler raised his price target for Crispr Therapeutics to $100 from $65 and maintained a Buy rating after the company and partner Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) announced the first CTX001 early clinical data in two patients.

In a research note to investors, Butler says that though only two patients have been treated with CTX001, these data provide a hint that CRISPR-Cas9 could be curative for hemoglobinopathies, adding that gene-editing is “clearly not a fiction.”

The results utilizing gene-editing with CRISPR-Cas9 to create allogenic CAR-T cells against various cancers may also increase its probability of success based on successful editing in the CLIMB trials, he said.

Cantor Fitzgerald

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Alethia Young raised her price target for Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) to $229 from $217 after the company and partner Crispr Therapeutics (CRSP) announced the first CTX001 early clinical data in two patients.

The analyst finds the data “highly encouraging” and thinks this could be an “exciting pipeline program of focus for Vertex by this time next year.” She increased her probability of success for CTX001 to 20% from 10% and reiterates an Overweight rating on shares of Vertex.

Piper Jaffray

Piper Jaffray analyst Edward Tenthoff raised his price target for Crispr Therapeutics (CRSP) to $107 from $100 after the company and partner Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) reported first-ever CTX001 data on one beta thalassemia and one sickle cell disease patient. Tenthoff is “impressed by these early results showing potential curative effect and look for more patients and longer follow-up next year.” He reiterates an Overweight rating on Crispr Therapeutics.

CRSP is up $10 to $68.55. VRTX is up $5.07 to $215.07

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BeiGene drug wins FDA approval for rare form of lymphoma

The FDA granted accelerated approval to the capsules for treatment of adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma, who have received at least one prior therapy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved BeiGene Ltd’s lymphoma drug, accepting the Chinese drugmaker’s strategy of largely using data from trials held outside the United States to file for approval.

FDA granted accelerated approval to the capsules for treatment of adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma
FDA granted approval to the capsules for treatment of aduls with mantle cell lymphoma, Stockwinners

The company tested the treatment, Brukinsa, in 118 patients with mantle cell lymphoma enrolled in two studies. About three-quarters were Asian, 21% Caucasian, and between 10% to 15% were from the United States, BeiGene said.

The FDA granted accelerated approval to the capsules for treatment of adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma, who have received at least one prior therapy.

Mantle cell lymphoma is a rare, aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer that most often affects men aged over 60. The company estimates between 3,000 and 4,000 new patients were diagnosed in the United States in 2015.

Last month, BeiGene (BGNE) and Amgen (AMGN) announced a global strategic oncology collaboration for the commercialization and development in China of Amgen’s XGEVA, KYPROLIS, and BLINCYTO, and the joint global development of 20 oncology assets in Amgen’s pipeline, with BeiGene responsible for development and commercialization in China.

In connection with the collaboration, Amgen said it will purchase a 20.5% stake in BeiGene for approximately $2.7B in cash at $174.85 per American Depositary Share, or ADS.

BGNE closed at $196.40.

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