Healthcare Review: Senesco Technologies, BioCryst, Biolase, Myriad Genetics, Intuitive Surgical Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Monday, 30 December 2013 14:19
U.S. stocks fluctuated, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index reached an all-time high last week and headed toward its biggest annual gain since 1997. The S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent to 1,839.24 at 12:58 p.m. in New York. The benchmark index is poised for a 29 percent gain this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose less than one point to 16,478.57 today. Trading in S&P 500-listed stocks was 34 percent below the 30-day average at this time of day.

Senesco Technologies ($SNTI) agrees to terms and executes a non-binding LoI to merge with privately-held biotech firm Fabrus on an approximately 50-50 basis. A definitive agreement is expected in "early 2014."Fabrus aims to expand the impact of antibodies aimed at drug targets that are resistant to traditional antibody discovery methods. It has 2 collaborations with "large pharma and biotech companies" and an internal pipeline of antibodies targeting renal cell carcinoma and inflammation. CEO Leslie Browne: "Fabrus antibodies could complement our eIF5A gene regulatory platform, which has been shown to kill cancer cells, by directing nanoparticle-based therapeutics to the cells of interest."Making things more interesting: Phillip Frost's Frost Gamma Investments Trust, which recently made an investment in Senesco Technologies as detailed by SA Pro's John H. Ford, made an investment in Fabrus back in 2010.

BioCryst ($BCRX) will get $2.5M from the NIAID to advance development of the Marburg virus treatment BCX4430.The new tranche of funding stems from NIAID's decision to exercise an option on an IND enabling program. BCRX could receive as much as $22M in total funding assuming all contracts are exercised."The goals of this contract are to file IND applications for intravenous and intramuscular BCX4430 for the treatment of Marburg virus disease, and to conduct Phase 1 human clinical trials," the company notes.

Biolase ($BIOL) jumps 19% after the company says the Health Canada-Medical Device Bureau has granted a license for the sale of EPIC dental soft-tissue diode laser systems."We believe that there is pent-up demand for the EPIC soft-tissue diode laser in Canada from our large and loyal installed base," the company says.

Shares of Myriad Genetics ($MYGN) are off sharply as the company has confirmed (via an 8-K) that the CMS NLA for CPT code 81211 is $1,438.14 — previously there was speculation that this was a clerical error. Here's CMS, commenting: "The NLA for code 81211 was based on the median of MAC submitted prices and will be effective for tests performed on or after January 1, 2014."There will be an extended public comment period (through January 27).The sell-side is beginning to weigh in: JMP cuts MYGN to Market Underperform, price target is $15. Market chatter suggests Oppenheimer thinks the shares are headed to the mid-teens. Cowen reportedly says the shares are overvalued.

Dozens of injuries involving operations in which Intuitive Surgical's ($ISRG) da Vinci robotic surgery system was used weren't reported for years, if at all, a Bloomberg review has found."The adverse event reporting system is a disaster," says David Challoner of the University of Florida. "Every link in the chain has a reason not to report."

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