Optinose shares soar on its potential Covid-19 treatment

Optinose announces anti-COVID-19 product candidate

Optinose (OPTN) announced initiation of development of a new product candidate, OPN-019.

OptiNose, Inc. focuses on the development and commercialization of products for patients treated by ear, nose, and throat; and allergy specialists in the United States.

OPN-019 will combine the Company’s proprietary nasal Exhalation Delivery System technology with an antiseptic that has been recently shown in vitro to kill the virus that causes COVID-19.

Because components of the drug-device combination product candidate, including both the active drug and delivery device, are currently commercially available in the U.S., the Company expects to be able to rapidly progress to a meeting with FDA to discuss an IND and then onward to clinical trials.

OptiNose uses this device to deliver its medicine

The Company is focused on supporting the initial stages of development within its current operating expense plan and intends to seek grants, partnerships, and/or other sources of capital to fund future development.

The company offers XHANCE, a therapeutic product utilizing its proprietary optinose exhalation delivery system that delivers a topically-acting and anti-inflammatory corticosteroid for the treatment of chronic rhinosinusitis with and without nasal polyps. It is also developing XHANCE, which is in Phase IIIb clinical trial for the treatment of chronic sinusitis; and OPN-300 for the treatment of Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic obesity disorder, as well as autism spectrum disorder. 

Note that this company is losing money and none of its products have been approved by FDA yet.

OPTN closed at $6.42, last traded at $8.70.

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Iterum Therapeutics drug fails, shares cut in half

Iterum says Phase 3 trial of sulopenem did not meet primary endpoint

Iterum Therapeutics (ITRM) announced that sulopenem did not achieve statistical non-inferiority relative to ertapenem in its SUlopenem for Resistant Enterobacteriaceae 2 clinical trial in complicated urinary tract infection.

Iterum shares collapse following it’s drug failure

The primary U.S. Food and Drug Administration endpoint was overall clinical and microbiologic response on Day 21 in the micro-MITT population as evaluated using a 10% non-inferiority margin.

The randomized, multi-center, double-blind SURE 2 clinical trial enrolled 1,395 patients to measure the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of IV and oral sulopenem for the treatment of cUTI in adults.

Patients were randomized to receive either IV sulopenem once daily for a minimum of five days followed by oral sulopenem twice daily to complete seven to ten days of treatment, or IV ertapenem once daily for a minimum of five days followed by either oral ciprofloxacin or, for quinolone resistant isolates, amoxicillin-clavulanate twice daily.

Responder rates at the test of cure visit for sulopenem were 67.8% and for ertapenem were 73.9% with a difference of -6.1%.

The difference in response rates was driven almost entirely by higher rates of asymptomatic bacteriuria on sulopenem relative to ertapenem, only evident at the test of cure visit; the rates of patients receiving additional antibiotics or with residual cUTI symptoms was similar.

Clinical response at the test of cure in the Modified Intent to Treat patient population and Clinically Evaluable patient population sulopenem vs ertapenem: 0.4% was similar.

The outcome at other secondary endpoints was also similar, including the overall response at the end of therapy visit at Day 10.

Strategic Alternatives

Based on the trial results, Iterum Therapeutics is evaluating its corporate, strategic and financial alternatives with the goal of maximizing value for its stakeholders while prudently managing its remaining resources.

These alternatives could potentially include the licensing, sale or divestiture of the company’s assets or proprietary technologies, a sale of the company, a merger or other business combination, another strategic transaction involving the company, restructuring activities, winding down of operations, dissolving and liquidating assets or seeking protection under bankruptcy laws.

ITRM shares are down 54% to $1.95.

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Minerva shares collapse following its drug failure

Minerva says Phase 3 trial of roluperidone did not meet primary endpoint

Minerva Neurosciences (NERV) announced that the Phase 3 trial of roluperidone to treat negative symptoms in schizophrenia did not meet its primary and key secondary endpoints.

Shares tumble following its drug failure

In total, 515 patients were enrolled into the trial, and 513 patients received treatment and were included in the safety and Intent-To-Treat population.

The trial was conducted in the USA, Europe and Israel.

There were 172 patients who received placebo, 172 patients who received roluperidone 32 mg, and 171 patients who received roluperidone 64 mg.

Demographic and baseline disease characteristics were comparable across all treatment arms.

The results for both roluperidone doses versus placebo across both the primary and the key secondary endpoints to Week 12 were corrected for multiplicity using the truncated Hochberg procedure.

The primary objective of the trial was to evaluate the change from baseline to Week 12 of NSFS with 32 mg and 64 mg doses of roluperidone compared to placebo in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia presenting with moderate to severe negative symptoms.

Neither the 32 mg nor 64 mg dose of roluperidone showed a statistically significant separation from placebo.

Furthermore, neither dose showed a statistically significant separation from placebo on the key secondary endpoint, the change from baseline to Week 12 in PSP.

Schizophrenia destroys patient’s life

Although limited inferences can be drawn from this data, unadjusted statistically significant separations from placebo were observed in NSFS at Week 4 for both doses and at Week 8 for the 64 mg dose, and the 64 mg dose was statistically significantly different from placebo as measured by change in PSP at all other assessment timepoints.

Overall, subgroup analyses by region and by age groups were similar.

Roluperidone was generally well tolerated, and the incidences of patients who reported treatment-emergent adverse events over the duration of 12 weeks of treatment were 37% for the 64 mg group, 42% for the 32 mg group, and 33% for placebo.

Only 42 patients discontinued from the study due to adverse events, 16 in 64 mg arm, 18 in 32 mg arm, and 8 in placebo arm.

Two treatment-unrelated deaths were reported in the 32 mg treatment arm says Phase 3 trial of roluperidone did not meet primary endpoint.

NERV is down 82% to $2.50.

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Inovio Shares Jump on COVID-19 Data

Inovio’s COVID-19 vaccine INO-4800 generates antibodies and immune responses

Inovio (INO) announced the publication of the preclinical study data for IN0-4800, its COVID-19 DNA vaccine, demonstrating “robust” neutralizing antibody and T cell immune responses against coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Inovio reports promising data, Stockwinners

The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications by INOVIO scientists and collaborators from The Wistar Institute, the University of Texas, Public Health England, Fudan University, and Advaccine. Kate Broderick, Inovio’s Senior VP of R&D and Team Lead for COVID-19 vaccine development, said, “These positive preclinical results from our COVID-19 DNA vaccine not only highlight the potency of our DNA medicines platform, but also build on our previously reported positive Phase 1/2a data from our vaccine against the coronavirus that causes MERS, which demonstrated near-100% seroconversion and neutralization from a similarly designed vaccine INO-4700.

Inovio hopes its work would lead to a vaccine, Stockwinners

The potent neutralizing antibody and T cell immune responses generated in multiple animal models are supportive of our currently on-going INO-4800 clinical trials.

” The studies demonstrated that vaccination with INO-4800 generated “robust” binding and neutralizing antibody as well as T cell responses in mice and guinea pigs.

The authors demonstrated virus neutralizing activity using three separate neutralization assays testing the vaccine’s ability to generate antibodies which can block virus infection.

Study authors also detected these antibodies in the lungs of the vaccinated animals which could be important in providing protection from SARS-CoV-2.

In addition, high levels of Spike-specific T cell responses were observed with INO-4800 vaccination, which could be important in mediating protection from the virus infection.

A Phase 2/3 efficacy trial is planned to start in July/August pending regulatory approval.

PIPER Comments:

Piper Sandler analyst Christopher Raymond noted that Inovio shares are up by a double digit percentage on the Nature Communications publication of preclinical data on the company’s CoV-19 DNA vaccine INO-4800, but he said “this isn’t new news.” The market currently has a “buy-first-ask-questions-later mentality on all things COVID,” but most of the data in this paper has been available since the pre-print in early March, said Raymond.

Additionally, while an ability to generate T-cell responses and functional neutralizing antibodies in mice and guinea pigs is important, the preclinical picture remains incomplete without non-human primate data and viral challenge data, which is needed to fully understand the potential, the analyst tells investors. Raymond, who thinks it is more prudent to reserve judgment until initial human data slated for the end of June is available, keeps a Neutral rating on Inovio shares.

INO closed at $14.50, last traded at $17.00

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Smile Direct receives patent for its concept

SmileDirectClub granted patent for SmileShop retail concept

SmileDirectClub (SDC) announced it has been issued a patent for its SmileShop intellectual property from the United States Patent & Trademark Office.

SmileDirect receives patent for its concept, Stockwinners

The patent, U.S. Patent No. 10,636,522, further strengthens the telehealth dentistry pioneer’s efforts to bring affordable, accessible oral care to more people through its unique and innovative teledentistry platform and direct-to-consumer business model.

The patent ensures no clear aligner competitor will be able to duplicate SmileDirectClub’s unique model for 18 years.

The patent encompasses the unique SmileShop concept and process, including scheduling of an appointment at a SmileShop, sending the scheduling confirmation to the customer, conducting the intraoral scan, generating a treatment plan, receiving approval of the treatment plan by a licensed dentist or orthodontist, producing aligners in accordance with the treatment plan, and sending those aligners to the customer.

Smile Direct eliminates the middle man, Stockwinners

SmileDirectClub’s clear aligner therapy platform has helped more than 1,000,000 customers achieve a straighter and brighter smile.

Furthermore, the company announced it is making plans to slowly reopen its SmileShops beginning in May in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland as local governments begin to lift business restrictions.

After its shops temporarily closed in March, SmileDirectClub, one of North America’s largest 3D printing manufacturers, dedicated some of its capacity to producing 3D printed personal protective equipment to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Smile Direct has an alliance with WalMart, Stockwinners

The company has shipped more than 40,000 face shields to medical organizations, elder care facilities, dentists and orthodontists during this time, and will supply all of its SmileShop team members with face shields and other PPE along with staggered appointment times, temperature scans and other social distancing measures to ensure a safe, sanitary experience upon reopening.

SDC closed at $5.39, it last traded at $7.20.

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COVID-19 vaccine is coming

Johnson & Johnson announces lead vaccine candidate for COVID-19

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) announced the selection of a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate from constructs it has been working on since January 2020.

JNJ’s Janssen Pharmaceutical promises a Covid-19 Vaccine, Stockwinners

The significant expansion of the existing partnership between the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA); and the rapid scaling of the company’s manufacturing capacity with the goal of providing global supply of more than one billion doses of a vaccine.

Janssen expects a Covid-19 vaccines by 2021, Stockwinners

The company expects to initiate human clinical studies of its lead vaccine candidate at the latest by September and anticipates the first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine could be available for emergency use authorization in early 2021, a substantially accelerated time frame in comparison to the typical vaccine development process.

Through a landmark new partnership, BARDA, which is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Johnson & Johnson together have committed more than $1B of investment to co-fund vaccine research, development, and clinical testing. Johnson & Johnson will use its validated vaccine platform and is allocating resources, including personnel and infrastructure globally, as needed, to focus on these efforts.

Covid-19 has shut down most of the world, Stockwinners.com

Separately, BARDA and the company have provided additional funding that will enable expansion of their ongoing work to identify potential antiviral treatments against the novel coronavirus.

As part of its commitment, Johnson & Johnson is also expanding the company’s global manufacturing capacity, including through the establishment of new U.S. vaccine manufacturing capabilities and scaling up capacity in other countries.

The additional capacity will assist in the rapid production of a vaccine and will enable the supply of more than one billion doses of a safe and effective vaccine globally.

The company plans to begin production at risk imminently and is committed to bringing an affordable vaccine to the public on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use.

JNJ closed at $123.16, last traded at $128.85.

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SmilesDirect and NBC clash

NBC reports problems with SDC, company claims poor reporting

SmileDirectClub (SDC) promises to fix customers’ smiles for about a third of the cost of traditional braces with at-home teeth straightening, but a number of patients say the aligners instead caused painful problems, NBC News reported yesterday.

SmilesDirect sells braces directly to consumers, Stockwinners

The Better Business Bureau reports more than 1,800 complaints nationwide involving SmileDirectClub, according to the report. Last month, nine members of Congress asked the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate SmileDirectClub “to ensure that it is not misleading consumers or causing patient harm.”

SmileDirectClub issues the following statement in response to the NBC story on the company.

The company said, in part, “We are disappointed that though we provided NBC with the opportunity to obtain all relevant facts as to the safety and efficacy of teledentistry for the provision of clear aligner therapy, NBC failed to provide its viewers with a balanced and fair news story reflecting those facts.

SDC package, Stockwinners

The piece misrepresents SmileDirectClub and the quality of care provided by the over 250 state-licensed dentists and orthodontists across the country who use our platform to treat their patients. We are surprised by the journalist’s blatant disregard for the facts and failure to include all of the accurate information we provided.

Notably, the almost five-minute report and online story does not include one interview or statement from the more than 750,000 satisfied customers who have used our products to improve their lives, nor does it include a single interview with any of the hundreds of dentists who have publicly supported our technology.

NBC reports a negative story on SDC

In fact, though NBC conducted interviews over the last 30 days with these doctors and customers under the guise of providing a fair and balanced story, their statements were not included or referenced in this story.

NBC airs this report causing SDC shares to tumble, Stockwinners

SmileDirectClub made customers, doctors and team members available for hours of in-person interviews, phone calls and email correspondence. The Company provided a tremendous amount of critical information that would have allowed NBC to report a more accurate and balanced story…There is no investigation into SmileDirectClub by the Federal Drug Administration or the FTC, and SmileDirectClub is in full compliance with FDA regulations, including its 510K manufacturing certification.

The letter referenced from members of Congress to the FDA is based on misinformation originated by dental trade organizations and is nothing more than the latest in a series of anti-competitive publicity tactics designed to attempt to limit our success, which is a direct threat to traditional orthodontia.

Of the nine congressmen who signed this letter, five are dentists, an interest that should be noted by an organization such as NBC Nightly News…Lastly, the California law states that dentists should review the “…patient’s most recent diagnostic digital or conventional radiographs or other equivalent bone imaging suitable for orthodontia.

New radiographs or other equivalent bone imaging shall be ordered if deemed appropriate by the treating dentist.” The doctors who use our platform are required to comply with the laws in every state in which they practice when using our platform, including the laws of the State of California.

While SmileDirectClub disagrees that the legislature should be setting clinical standards, we ensure that our model requires compliance with all laws.”

SDC closed at $15.33, last traded at $14.78.

Note that in recent days, Fidelity and Blackrock took major positions in SmilesDirect.

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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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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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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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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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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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