Gilead submits New Drug Application for Covid-19 Treatment

Gilead submits NDA to FDA for Veklury for COVID-19 treatment

Gilead Sciences (GILD) announced that it has submitted a New Drug Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for  Veklury® (remdesivir), an investigational antiviral for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.

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Gilead files for NDA for Veklury

#Veklury is currently available in the U.S. under an Emergency Use Authorization for the treatment of hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19.

The filing is the final tier of the rolling NDA submission that was initiated on April 8, 2020.

The filing is supported by data from two randomized, open-label, multi-center Phase 3 clinical studies of Veklury conducted by Gilead and the Phase 3 randomized, placebo-controlled study of Veklury conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

These studies demonstrated that treatment with Veklury led to faster time to recovery compared with placebo and that a 5-day or 10-day treatment duration led to similar clinical improvement.

Across studies, Veklury was generally well-tolerated in both the 5-day and 10-day treatment groups, with no new safety signals identified. Veklury has been approved by multiple regulatory authorities around the world, including in the European Union and Japan.

In countries where Veklury has not been approved, including the United States, Veklury is an investigational drug and the safety and efficacy of remdesivir have not been established.

Veklury has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any use.

In the United States, the FDA granted Veklury an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the treatment of hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. This authorization is temporary and may be revoked, and it does not take the place of the formal new drug application submission, review and approval process.

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FDA approves Exact Sciences’ COVID-19 test

Exact Sciences receives revised EUA for COVID-19 test

A letter to Exact Sciences Laboratories (EXAS), dated August 3, posted to the site of the FDA states:

“On May 22, 2020, based on your request, the Food and Drug Administration issued a letter determining that your product met the criteria for issuance under section 564(c) of the Act to be eligible for authorization under the March 31, 2020, Emergency Use Authorization – EUA – for Molecular-based Laboratory Developed Tests for Detection of Nucleic Acid from SARS-CoV-2 for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2 in respiratory specimens collected from individuals suspected of COVID-19 by their healthcare provider…

On July 17, 2020, FDA received a request from you to revise the Scope of Authorization, and thus the test’s intended use as originally specified by the High Complexity LDT Umbrella EUA, to include self-collection of nasal swab specimens that are self-collected at home or in a healthcare setting by individuals using an authorized home-collection kit specified in this EUA’s authorized labeling when determined to be appropriate by a healthcare provider, and to specify that testing is limited to Exact Sciences Laboratories at two locations..

Having concluded that the criteria for issuance of this authorization under Section 564(c) of the Act are met, I am authorizing the emergency use of your product, as described in the Scope of Authorization of this letter (Section II), subject to the terms of this authorization.”

Exact Sciences is known for it’s Cologuard, colon cancer detection test

The COVID-19 test is offered through US physicians and authorized healthcare providers. The test is intended for use with patients who meet the CDC’s current guidance for evaluation of COVID-19 infection.

EXAS last traded at $92.76.

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Sangamo signs deal with Novartis, shares jump

Sangamo executes global licensing agreement with Novartis for genomic medicines

Sangamo (SGMO) announced that it has executed a global licensing collaboration agreement with Novartis (NVS) to develop and commercialize gene regulation therapies to address three neurodevelopmental targets, including autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Sangamo signs distribution agreement with Novartis

The collaboration will leverage Sangamo’s propriety genome regulation technology, zinc finger protein transcription factors, or ZFP-TFs, to aim to upregulate the expression of key genes involved in neurodevelopmental disorders.

Zinc-finger protein transcription factors (ZFP TFs) can be designed to control the expression of any desired target gene, and thus provide potential therapeutic tools for the study and treatment of disease. 

Novartis receives positive CHMP opinion for Kymriah, Stockwinners
Novartis to use Sangamo to expand its markets

The collaboration will leverage ZFP-TFs engineered by Sangamo scientists in an effort to upregulate, or activate, the expression of genes that are inadequately expressed in individuals with certain types of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Under the terms of the agreement, over a three-year collaboration period, Novartis has exclusive rights to ZFP-TFs targeted to three undisclosed genes which are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders, including ASD and intellectual disability.

Novartis also has the option to license Sangamo’s proprietary AAVs.

Sangamo’s proprietary AAVs

Sangamo is responsible for certain research and associated manufacturing activities, all of which will be funded by Novartis, and Novartis assumes responsibility for additional research activities, investigational new drug-enabling studies, clinical development, related regulatory interactions, manufacturing and global commercialization.

Under the collaboration agreement, Novartis will pay Sangamo a $75 million upfront license fee payment within thirty days.

In addition, Sangamo is eligible to earn up to $720 million in other development and commercial milestone payments, including up to $420 million in development milestones and up to $300 million in commercial milestones.

Sangamo is also eligible to receive from Novartis tiered high single-digit to sub-teen double-digit royalties on potential net commercial sales of products arising from the collaboration.

SGMO is up 15% to $11.40. NVS is down 22 cents to $84.19.

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Watch shares of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

Alnylam presents Phase 3 results from ILLUMINATE-A study of Lumasiran

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (ALNY) announced Phase 3 results from the ILLUMINATE-A study of lumasiran, an investigational RNAi therapeutic targeting hydroxyacid oxidase 1 – the gene encoding glycolate oxidase – in development for the treatment of primary hyperoxaluria type 1.

The clinical data were presented at a late-breaking session at the European Renal Association-European Dialysis and Transplant Association International Congress being held as a virtual event on June 6-9.

Lumasiran achieved the ILLUMINATE-A primary endpoint with a 53.5% mean reduction in urinary oxalate relative to placebo and showed a 65.4% mean reduction in urinary oxalate relative to baseline.

All tested study secondary endpoints were met, including the proportion of patients achieving near-normalization or normalization of urinary oxalate, compared with zero percent in the placebo group.

Lumasiran administration was associated with an encouraging safety and tolerability profile, with no serious or severe adverse events and with mild injection site reactions as the most common drug-related AE.

Primary hyperoxaluria (PH) constitutes a group of rare inherited disorders of the liver characterized by the overproduction of oxalate, an end-product of metabolism. High levels of oxalate are toxic because oxalate cannot be broken down by the human body and accumulates in the kidneys.

PH1 is an ultra-rare orphan disease caused by excessive oxalate production, and elevated urinary oxalate levels are associated with progression to end-stage kidney disease and other systemic complications.

Based on the ILLUMINATE-A results, Alnylam filed a New Drug Application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA has granted a Priority Review for the NDA and has set an action date of December 3, 2020 under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act.

In addition, the Marketing Authorisation Application for lumasiran has been submitted to and validated by the European Medicines Agency, and has received Accelerated Assessment designation.

Stifel

Stifel analyst Paul Matteis believes full Alnylam’s Lumasiran data presented at ERA-EDTA reflect a relatively derisked clinical profile that’s very likely to attain regulatory approval.

Lumasiran treatment led to robust and durable reductions in urinary oxalate, which based on the well described biology in PH1 should ultimately lead to clinical benefit on renal outcomes, he contends.

The analyst notes that for the stock, lumasiran is already mostly priced-in here, though there’s some investment debate surrounding the market opportunity which is generally perceived to be ultra-orphan/small.

While he is also somewhat conservative in how he models revenues for lumasiran, there could be upside to numbers should approval/launch increase the PH1 diagnosis rate. Matteis has a Buy rating and a $159 price target on the shares.

ALNY closed at $127.59.

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ARCA Biopharma shares soar on possible COVID-19 treatment

ARCA Biopharma announces AB201 development program for coagulopathy

ARCA biopharma (ABIO) announced a new development program to evaluate AB201, a potent, selective inhibitor of tissue factor as a potential treatment for COVID-19 associated coagulopathy and the related inflammatory response.

Coagulopathy (also called a bleeding disorder) is a condition in which the blood’s ability to coagulate (form clots) is impaired. This condition can cause a tendency toward prolonged or excessive bleeding (bleeding diathesis), which may occur spontaneously or following an injury or medical and dental procedures.

CAC is one of the most serious adverse effects seen in COVID-19 patients.

AB201 has previously undergone clinical testing through Phase 2 in more than 700 patients for other indications, generating substantial safety data, which the Company believes may enable more rapid development.

ARCA anticipates filing an Investigational New Drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the third quarter and initiating late-stage clinical testing in the second half of this year.

TF is the protein responsible for initiating the primary or extrinsic coagulation pathway.

TF has been identified as playing a central role in the inflammatory response to viral infections and in the process of viral dissemination.

AB201, a single-chain, 85 amino acid, recombinant protein, has previously undergone Phase 1 and Phase 2 testing in more than 700 patients, including as an anti-thrombotic agent in the setting of acute myocardial infarction, where it showed efficacy in inhibiting the TF pathway and was well tolerated at therapeutic doses.

Recent research suggests that the disease syndrome caused by coronavirus may have much in common with other coagulopathic disorders in which the blood’s ability to coagulate is impaired by consumption of clotting factors.

For example, filovirus infections such as Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers are characterized by dysregulated activation of the TF pathway, resulting in abnormal systemic coagulation and related inflammation, leading to organ failure and mortality.

Recent mechanistic discoveries, as well as data from studies in non-human primates given lethal doses of Ebola or Marburg filoviruses demonstrating mortality reductions, decreases in inflammatory biomarkers and reduction in viral load, indicate that AB201 may have important antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity in addition to its anticoagulant effects.

Collectively, the Company believes these observations provide a strong rationale for investigating AB201 as a treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS CoV-2 virus.

COVID-19 disease is associated with a significant incidence of coagulation-related adverse events, including stroke, MI, pulmonary emboli, and disseminated intravascular coagulation, a condition in which small blood clots develop throughout the bloodstream.

A commonly used biomarker for assessing coagulation activation is a D-dimer test, which is elevated in approximately 50% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients and is directly associated with adverse clinical outcomes.

In Ebola or Marburg NHP models, AB201 inhibited the DIC process, as measured by lowered D-dimer levels, which the Company believes provides further support for its therapeutic potential for CAC. The Company believes the efficacy of AB201 against COVID-19 disease may not be affected by potential mutations of the SARS CoV-2 virus, would be additive with therapeutics inhibiting virus-cell binding or viral RNA polymerase, and could be effective against other coagulopathy-associated viruses.

The Company anticipates filing an IND application for AB201 as a potential treatment for COVID-19 with the FDA in the third quarter of this year. In collaboration with the Colorado Prevention Center, the University of Colorado’s Academic Research Organization directed by Marc Bonaca, MD, a vascular and anti-coagulation clinical trialist, a Phase 2B/3 clinical trial protocol is being developed for hospitalized COVID-19 patients with elevated D-dimer levels.

Pending FDA concurrence and obtaining trial funding, ARCA estimates initiating late-stage clinical testing of AB201 in the second half of 2020.

ABIO is up 206% to $12.16.

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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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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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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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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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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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The Medicines Co. sold for $9.7B

Novartis to pay $85 per share in cash for each MDCO share

The Medicines Company (MDCO) announced that it has entered into definitive agreement in which Novartis (NVS) will acquire the company for $85 per share in an all-cash transaction, implying a fully diluted equity value of $9.7B.

Novartis to pay $85 per share in cash for each MDCO share, Stockwinners

The stock closed Friday down $1.21 to $68.55. See our previous blog post.

The purchase price represents a premium of approximately 45% to The Medicines Company’s closing share price of $58.65 on November 18, the last trading day prior to news reports of a potential transaction between The Medicines Company and Novartis.

Novartis receives positive CHMP opinion for Kymriah, Stockwinners
Novartis to pay $85 per share in cash for each MDCO share, Stockwinners , Stockwinners

The transaction was unanimously approved by the boards of both companies. Under the terms of the merger agreement, Novartis will commence a tender offer to purchase all outstanding shares of The Medicines Company for $85 per share in cash.

Following the completion of the tender offer, a wholly owned subsidiary of Novartis will merge with The Medicines Company and shares of The Medicines Company that have not been tendered and purchased in the tender offer will be converted into the right to receive the same price per share.

Completion of the transaction is expected in Q1 of 2020, pending the successful completion of the tender offer and other customary closing conditions.

Until that time, The Medicines Company will continue to operate as a separate and independent company. The company expects to file regulatory submissions for inclisiran in the U.S. in Q4 of 2019 and in Europe in the first quarter of 2020.

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Shares of Aravive soar on its ovarian cancer drug

Aravive reports data from ongoing Phase 1b portion of AVB-500 trial

Aravive (ARAV) announced new data from the ongoing Phase 1b portion of the Phase 1b/2 clinical trial of AVB-500 in platinum-resistant recurrent ovarian cancer patients.

Ovarian cancer data sends shares sharply higher, Stockwinners

The data from the first 31 patients treated at the 10 mg/kg dose are maturing and affirm earlier findings on the relationship between AVB-500 levels and anti-tumor response.

In this data analysis, high serum drug levels of AVB-500 were strongly predictive of anti-tumor activity with statistically significant correlation to progression-free survival.

PFS is the primary endpoint for platinum-resistant ovarian cancer clinical trials.

At the 10 mg/kg dose, patients that met or exceeded the minimal efficacious concentration of AVB-500 demonstrated a greater than four-fold increase in median PFS over those with low exposure and approximately two-fold improvement in overall response rate, including one complete response.

How AVB-500 works, Stockwinners

Patients who achieved sufficient AVB-500 exposure also showed improvements in duration of response and clinical benefit rate, with reduced chance of progressing by 3.2-fold.

The open-label, Phase 1b portion of the Phase 1b/2 clinical trial of AVB-500 enrolled patients with platinum-resistant recurrent ovarian cancer in two cohorts, one investigating a combination of AVB-500 with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin and the other a combination with paclitaxel.

All patients were treated with 10mg/kg AVB-500 every other week.

The company previously reported drug exposure-response relationship among the initial patients receiving 10 mg/kg.

The study identified a minimal efficacious concentration that is consistent with at least 95% target engagement based on independent pharmacokinetic modeling.

At the 10 mg/kg dose, 17 of 31 patients in the study achieved the minimal efficacious concentration after the first dose of AVB-500. The baseline characteristics, demographics and safety parameters were comparable between patients who achieved the minimal efficacious concentration and those who fell below that threshold.

The analysis shows that the clinical benefit at this dose level in the study can be primarily attributed to AVB-500 exposure.

Other notable findings: The patient with CR that is pending confirmation achieved the MEC of AVB-500 and was on paclitaxel. She had a baseline serum GAS6 level typical of the platinum-resistant ovarian cancer population and two-fold higher than that observed in healthy volunteers. She also exhibited poor prognostic factors, including two prior lines of therapy and platinum-free interval of less than three months.

Among the patients who responded to AVB-500, four of seven remain responders and continue on study, and two patients remain on AVB-500 as a single agent.

All four patients achieved the minimal efficacious AVB-500 concentration. Among the 13 patients whose best response was SD, four achieved the MEC of AVB-500 and remain on study. One SD patient, whose trough level was below the minimal efficacious concentration, did not progress but withdrew consent.

Because the study is still ongoing and includes only patients above the MEC, duration of response and PFS may continue to evolve.

These data confirm the company’s strategy to investigate higher doses in the current Phase 1b study, to determine if a greater proportion of patients can exceed the MEC.

According to our modeling, a dose of 20 mg/kg should allow greater than 90% of the patients to achieve the MEC.

It is anticipated 6 to 12 patients will be treated with 15mg/kg and an additional 12 patients will be treated with 20mg/kg.

An independent safety monitoring group will review data from the 15mg/kg group prior to escalation to the 20 mg/kg dose.

AVB-500 continues to be well-tolerated and there have been no serious and unexpected adverse reactions or dose-limiting toxicities to date.

ARAV closed at $6.51, last traded at $17.20.

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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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Medicines Co. is in play

Novartis holds talks about potential acquisition of Medicines Co

Medicines Co. (MDCO) has attracted takeover interest from companies including Novartis (NVS), which has been holding talks about a potential acquisition of the New Jersey-based company, Bloomberg’s Ed Hammond, Nabila Ahmed and Dinesh Nair report, citing people familiar with the matter.

Novartis is eyeing Medicines Co., Stockwinners

According to the people, Novartis is conducting due diligence on Medicines Co. Other potential acquirers have also expressed interest in buying Medicines Co., they add.

Novartis is looking for products to replace its out of patent products, Stockwinners

The Medicines Company focuses on developing therapeutics for the treatment of therosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The company is developing Inclisiran, an investigational RNA interference therapeutic that inhibits production of proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9, which controls LDL-cholesterol levels.

Novartis has historically had a strong cardiovascular drug franchise, but lost ground when Diovan, once a $6 billion-per-year seller, lost patent protection in 2012 and left the company without an immediate, innovative follow-up product.

Novartis Chief Executive Officer Vas Narasimhan has relied on deals to sharpen the company’s focus on innovative drugs for cancer and rare diseases. The Basel, Switzerland-based company has announced close to $16 billion of acquisitions since he took over as CEO in February 2018, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. He has also spun off the Alcon Inc. eye-care division and ditched a stake in a consumer-health venture.

Baird’s Comments

Baird analyst Madhu Kumar said he has utter conviction that The Medicine’s Co. inclisiran can disrupt cholesterol therapy. The analyst cited its results from the ORION-9/10/11 trial which was released and supported his thesis. He said the remaining question is whether the company can find an acquirer or partner to help launch inclisiran.

Kumar reiterated his Outperform rating and $100 price target on The Medicine’s Co. shares.

JPMorgan’s Take

JPMorgan analyst Jessica Fye noted that Bloomberg is reporting that Novartis (NVS) and other potential acquirers have expressed interest in buying The Medicines Company (MDCO), adding that her talks with investors indicate that Novartis is viewed as the most likely buyer.

She further notes that Medicines Co. shares were trading above her standalone valuation at yesterday’s close, which she attributes to some anticipation of a deal, and that today’s move puts the stock in a price range greater than 40% above her standalone target.

Outside of Novartis, Fye also believes an acquirer could be a less expected company, but if only one company is interested they could try to “wait it out” to the point where investors might begin to worry that Medicines could have to take on the substantial inclisiran launch investment independently. However, if multiple players are interested, as Bloomberg suggests, she thinks “competitive tension” could lead to a near-term acquisition.

MDCO is up $12.35 to $71.00.

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