Moderna shares jump on Fauci comments, possible COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna rises as Fauci comments on COVID vaccine potential highlighted

Shares of Moderna (MRNA) are trading higher, which is being attributed to comments made earlier this week by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director who has become one of the faces of the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response.

Fauci highlighted Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, as well as another one in development at Oxford University, in an interview with National Geographic this week, telling the publication that he believes that the U.S. will have a vaccine ready for general use as soon as January “When we look at the immune response that you can induce with a modest dose – one that’s feasible to be translated into humans – and the amount of time it takes to get to that level of immunity, it is really quite impressive,” Fauci was quoted as saying when discussing both Moderna’s vaccine candidate and the one being developed at Oxford.

Modernal shares are higher on its vaccine potentail

“It is also really easy to scale up with these two, in the sense of making a lot of doses pretty quickly,” he reportedly added.

Dr. Fauci has been government’s leading Covid-19 expert

The interview, published two days ago, may be getting added attention after The Boston Business Journal published a recap with the headline “Fauci singles out Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine as reason for optimism” yesterday afternoon.

Moderna, Inc. (MRNA) is a clinical stage biotechnology company. It develops therapeutics and vaccines based on messenger RNA for the treatment of infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.

Covid 19 has killed thousands of people worldwide

As of February 15, 2019 the company had 11 programs in clinical trials and a total of 20 development candidates in six modalities comprising prophylactic vaccines, cancer vaccines, intratumoral immuno-oncology, localized regenerative therapeutics, systemic secreted therapeutics, and systemic intracellular therapeutics. Moderna, Inc. also has a collaboration with Lonza Ltd. for the manufacture of mRNA-1273, a COVID-19 vaccine.

MRNA is up 9.5% to $53.50.

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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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Esperion Therapeutics higher on cholesterol data

Esperion announces JAMA publication of results of Phase 3 study of bempedoic acid

Esperion Therapeutics (ESPR) announce that the results from the 779 patient, 52 week, Phase 3, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study of bempedoic acid were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Esperion announces 'positive' top-line results from bempedoic acid study, Stockwinners.com
Esperion announces ‘positive’ results from bempedoic acid study, Stockwinners

Bempedoic acid is being developed as a, convenient, once-daily, oral therapy for the treatment of patients with elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol added onto maximally tolerated statin therapy.

Bempedoic acid and the bempedoic acid 180 mg + ezetimibe 10 mg fixed dose combination tablets’ new drug applications are currently under regulatory review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the marketing authorisation applications are currently under centralized review by the European Medicines Agency.

Bempedoic acid in action, Stockwinners

Study 2 evaluated the long-term safety, tolerability and efficacy, of bempedoic acid 180 mg versus placebo in 779 patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and/or heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia inadequately controlled with current lipid-modifying therapies, added-on to maximally tolerated statin therapy, which may mean no statin at all.

The JAMA publication includes results from the primary efficacy endpoint of LDL-C lowering at 12-weeks and key secondary endpoints of safety and tolerability over 52-weeks, including that bempedoic acid: significantly lowered LDL-cholesterol by 17 percent on background maximally tolerated statin therapy at 12 weeks, and the effect was durable through 52-weeks; significantly lowered high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, an important marker of the underlying inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease, by 19 percent, and the effect was durable through 52-weeks; reduced hemoglobin A1c by 0.21% vs. placebo in patients with diabetes at 12 weeks, favorable glycemic control and less worsening of diabetes persisted over the 52-week treatment period.

The study showed overall adverse event rates comparable with placebo at 52 weeks, and the proportion of patients with reported serious adverse events was similar compared with placebo at 52 weeks; and showed adjudicated 3-component major adverse cardiac event rates of 2.7% with BA and 4.7% with placebo.

“The CLEAR Wisdom trial demonstrated that bempedoic acid provided additional LDL-cholesterol lowering in patients on background maximally tolerated statin therapy and had an overall adverse event profile that was comparable to placebo,” said Anne C. Goldberg MD, FACP, FAHA, FNLA, Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Lipid Research at Washington University, St. Louis and lead study author.

ESPR +$2.42 to $41.14.

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Watch shares of Mirati Therapeutics

Mirati presents data from sitravatinib in combination with nivolumab trials

Mirati Therapeutics (MRTX) announced the presentation of initial data from its ongoing Phase 2 clinical trial of sitravatinib in combination with nivolumab in metastatic urothelial cancer patients with documented progression on a platinum-chemotherapy and checkpoint inhibitor.

Mirati is in focus on cancer data, Stockwinners

The data were presented in an oral presentation at the Society of Immunotherapy of Cancer 34th Annual Meeting.

Preliminary results from the ongoing Phase 1 study of neoadjuvant sitravatinib combined with nivolumab in patients with resectable squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity, SNOW trial, were also presented in a poster session.

The preliminary data suggest that the combination of neoadjuvant sitravatinib and nivolumab is safe and active in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity who are candidates for resection.

Chart shows Sitravatinib in action, Stockwinners

Tumor reduction was observed in all eight patients who were eligible for evaluation, including one complete pathological response.

All patients received postoperative radiation therapy, and none required postoperative chemotherapy.

With a median follow-up of 31.4 weeks, all patients are alive with no disease recurrence to date.

In most patients, treatment with sitravatinib led to a decrease in myeloid-derived suppressor cells and a shift towards M1-type macrophages in the tumor microenvironment, supporting previous preclinical findings.

“Sitravatinib is a spectrum-selective kinase inhibitor that potently inhibits receptor tyrosine kinases, including TAM family receptors that has the potential to increase responsiveness in patients whose tumors are resistant to checkpoint inhibitors. The initial efficacy data from the Phase 2 clinical trial presented today in patients with checkpoint refractory mUC is promising and extends the clinical benefit data beyond what has already been demonstrated by sitravatinib combined with nivolumab in checkpoint refractory non-small cell lung cancer,” said Charles Baum, M.D., CEO of Mirati.

Sitravatinib offers hope for cancer patients, Stockwinners

“In addition, we are evaluating sitravatinib in patients who have progressed on checkpoint therapy, including those with NSCLC and renal cell cancer, and we continue to expand development efforts of sitravatinib through our collaboration with BeiGene in multiple indications including NSCLC, renal cell cancer, hepatocellular cancer, ovarian cancer, and gastric cancer.”

MRTX closed at $104.78.

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Nektar Therapeutics is in focus

Nektar presents new clinical, preclinical data from immuno-oncology pipeline

Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) announced the presentation of five clinical and preclinical data abstracts focused on its immuno-oncology portfolio at the 2019 Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer Annual Meeting.

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Nektar Therapeutics is in focus, Stockwinners

New clinical results from the PIVOT-02 Phase 1/2 study were shared in an oral presentation titled, “Clinical activity of BEMPEG plus NIVO in previously untreated patients with metastatic melanoma: updated results from the Phase 1/2 PIVOT-02 Study” during the Combination Phase 1-2 Clinical Trials Session on Saturday, November 9th.

Additional preclinical data presented at the annual meeting highlighted NKTR-255, an IL-15 agonist discovered by Nektar.

The presentations demonstrated that NKTR-255 enhanced activity of antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity against tumor cells in vitro, and that it also enhanced in vivo efficacy of ADCC-inducing antibodies in models of human solid tumors.

NKTR-255 is designed to engage the IL-15 pathway to stimulate and expand natural killer cells and promote the survival and expansion of memory CD8+ T cells without inducing suppressive regulatory T cells.

Nektar product pipeline, Stockwinners

NKTR-255 is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial in patients with either relapsed or refractory Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or multiple myeloma.

“The data presented at this year’s SITC meeting continue to showcase the potential of our I-O portfolio, most notably our key IL-2 pathway program, bempeg, and our new IL-15 pathway program, NKTR-255,” said Jonathan Zalevsky, Ph.D., Chief Research & Development Officer at Nektar.

“The 18-month follow-up data presentation for the Stage IV melanoma patients in our PIVOT-02 study reinforces the promise of BEMPEG and NIVO to work synergistically to achieve a deepening of response over time, while maintaining a favorable safety and tolerability profile. We’re pleased that at this 18 month timepoint, 85% of patients who achieved responses have ongoing responses and median PFS has not yet been reached.”

Separately, Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) announced updated results from the first-in-human Phase 1a study of NKTR-358, a novel T regulatory cell stimulator in development for the treatment of autoimmune and other chronic inflammatory conditions.

Nektar reports new data, Stockwinners

The data, which were presented at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Atlanta, show that treatment with NKTR-358 led to a marked and selective dose-dependent expansion in the numbers and proliferative capacity of FoxP3+CD25bright Treg cells, and a measurable activation of Treg cells.

These data are a continuation of initial results reported at 2019 Annual European Congress of Rheumatology in June 2019.

NKTR-358 is designed to treat autoimmune and inflammatory conditions by correcting the immune system imbalance that results from reduced numbers and impaired function of immune-regulating Treg cells.

NKTR-358 works by targeting the interleukin-2 receptor complex to stimulate the proliferation and activation of Treg cells.

NKTR-358 was discovered by Nektar and is being co-developed and commercialized in partnership with Eli Lilly (LLY).

Eli Lilly announces Alimta label expanded by FDA, Stockwinners
Eli Lilly and Nektar report new data, Stockwinners

“We’re pleased to report that final results from our first-in-human Phase 1a study continue to support the positive safety and tolerability profile of NKTR-358, while reinforcing its selective and measurable impact on the numbers, expansion and activation of regulatory T cells or Tregs,” said Brian Kotzin, M.D., senior VP, Clinical Development and NKTR-358 Program Lead at Nektar.

“Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases are marked by an imbalance in the body’s self-tolerance and self-regulatory immune pathways, and the ability of NKTR-358 to expand functional Tregs could help restore normal balance.

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Sarepta reports positive results for muscular dystrophy Type 2E treatment

Sarepta announces results from gene therapy trial for beta sarcoglycanopathy

Sarepta Therapeutics (SPRT) announced the nine-month functional results from three Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy Type 2E ,LGMD2E, clinical trial participants who received SRP-9003. SRP-9003 is an investigational gene therapy intended to transduce skeletal and cardiac muscle with a gene that codes for the full-length, native beta-sarcoglycan protein, the lack of which is the sole cause of LGMD2E.

Sarepta drops after U.K. trial halt,
Sarepta rises on muscular dystrophy data, Stockwinners

In Cohort 1 of the SRP-9003 study, three participants ages 4-13 were treated with an infusion of SRP-9003 at a dose of 5x1013vg/kg.

Improvements in functional outcomes were observed at day 270 for all three participants.

“We have now observed consistent functional improvements, in addition to high levels of expression of the missing protein of interest and strong results in related biomarkers, in both of our first cohorts for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and LGMD2E. We intend to test one higher dose of SRP-9003 in LGMD2E participants, select our clinical dose and then advance our SRP-9003 program, along with our other five LGMD programs, as rapidly as possible,” said Doug Ingram, Sarepta’s president and chief executive officer.

“With the results of our first LGMD2E cohort, Sarepta continues to build its gene therapy engine, an enduring model created to design, develop and bring to the medical and patient community transformative therapies for those living with, and too often dying from, rare genetic disease.”

No new safety signals were observed and the safety profile seen to date supports the ability to dose escalate in the next cohort of the study. As previously disclosed, two participants in the study had elevated liver enzymes, one of which was designated a serious adverse event (SAE), as the participant had associated transient increase in bilirubin. Both events occurred when the participants were tapered off oral steroids and, in both instances, elevated liver enzymes returned to baseline and symptoms resolved following supplemental steroid treatment.

SPRT is up $5.52 to $86.86.

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Cara Therapeutics shares jump on KALM-1 data

Cara Therapeutics announces topline data from KALM-1 Phase 3 trial

Cara reports positive top-line data from CR845, Stockwinners
Cara reports positive results from the KALM-1 pivotal Phase 3 trial of Korsuva Injection in hemodialysis patients , Stockwinners

Cara Therapeutics (CARA) announced topline data from the KALM-1 pivotal Phase 3 trial of Korsuva Injection in hemodialysis patients with moderate-to-severe chronic kidney disease-associated pruritus, or CKD-aP.

Chronic kidney disease-associated pruritus ( #CKD-aP ) is a distressing, often overlooked condition in patients with CKD and end-stage renal disease. It affects ~40% of patients with end-stage renal disease and has been associated with poor quality of life, poor sleep, depression, and mortality.  Despite being an annoyance, CKD-associated pruritus (CKD-aP) can adversely affect the quality of life (QOL) and medical outcomes. 

The proportion of patients on 0.5 mcg/kg of Korsuva Injection achieving a three-point or greater improvement from baseline in the weekly mean of the daily 24 hour Worst Itching Intensity Numeric Rating Scale, or WI-NRS, score at week 12 was 51% vs. 28% for patients on placebo.

The proportion of patients on 0.5 mcg/kg of Korsuva Injection achieving a four-point or greater improvement from baseline in the weekly mean of the daily 24 hour WI-NRS score at week 12 was 39% vs. 18% for patients on placebo.

Patients on #Korsuva Injection experienced a 43% improvement in the average total Skindex-10 score at week 12 vs. patients on placebo.

Patients on Korsuva Injection experienced a 35% improvement in the average total 5-D Itch score at week 12 vs. patients on placebo.

Korsuva was generally well-tolerated with a safety profile consistent with that seen in earlier Korsuva clinical trials.

Overall, the incidence of adverse events, or AEs, and serious AEs were similar across both Korsuva and placebo groups.

The most common treatment emergent AEs reported in greater than 5% of patients were diarrhea, dizziness, nasopharyngitis and vomiting.

CARA is up 12.5% to $20.21 per share.

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