Healthcare Review: Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Initiating XOMA, Aeterna Zentaris, Sangamo BioSciences Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Thursday, 09 January 2014 15:45
U.S. stocks were little changed in choppy trade on Thursday, as a soft performance by retailers offset earlier enthusiasm about an upbeat report on the labor market. The S&P retail index declined 0.3 percent, pulled lower by a 12.8 percent tumble in Bed, Bath and Beyond Inc to $69.52 and a 4.6 percent drop in Family Dollar Stores Inc to $63.28.

"The pieces are in place," says Roth's Joseph Pantginis, starting Rexahn Pharmaceuticals (RNN) with a Buy rating and $3 price target. Rexahn, he says, is a "re-focused, re-tooled company with a clear focus on oncology drug development."Add in a rapidly-advancing pipeline, potential partnerships (with RX-3117 the lead prospect), and compelling valuation, and Pantginis thinks there's a ground-floor opportunity in the stock.

Initiating XOMA ($XOMA) at Buy with $11 price target, analyst Biren Amin notes positive data from two small pilot trials of gevokizumab in Phase III for non-infectious uveitis - called the EYEGUARD program. "Gevokizumab’s biological and clinical activity to date, and the robust design of the Phase III trials gives us confidence in a positive outcome for the PIII program. We estimate gevokizumab could generate $285 million in risk-adjusted U.S. sales in 2020."

Aeterna Zentaris ($AEZS) raises net proceeds of $12.1M by pricing 11M units at $1.20 each. Each unit consists of one common share and 0.8 of a warrant to buy one common share at $1.25 each, excercisable for up to five years. Aeterna Zentaris will use the money to fund its drug development and for general purposes.

Shares in Sangamo BioSciences ($SGMO) jump 15.4% after it announces a partnership with Biogen Idec (BIIB) for the development of new therapies for two inherited blood disorders, sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia. Sangamo will receive $20M up front, as much as $300M in milestone payments and royalties. The companies will use Sangamo's zinc finger nuclease genome-editing technology to address "the abnormal structure or underproduction of hemoglobin" by eliminating a key regulator of gene expression or inserting a corrective gene that will replace a defective one causing disease.

A Phase II trial of Intercept Pharmaceuticals' ($ICPT) obeticholic acid (OCA) for the treatment of a chronic liver disease called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) has been stopped early due to the therapy meeting the primary endpoint of the trial. NASH is caused by excessive fat accumulation in the liver, and can lead to cirrhosis, eventual liver failure and death. No drugs have been approved for the treatment of NASH."On its current trajectory, the disease is projected to become the leading indication for liver transplant," Intercept says.

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