Healthcare Review: BioCryst, Merck, ThermoGenesis, Geron, Celsion Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Monday, 27 January 2014 14:28
U.S. investors are holding steady Monday in a shaky global market. After big drops in stocks last week sparked by a slowing Chinese economy and plunging emerging-market currencies, the selling moderated. Caterpillar, a big component of the Dow Jones industrial average, surged after reporting a jump in profits. Turkey's battered lira recovered some losses amid hope the country's central bank will shore up the currency. And European stocks pared some of their losses.

Citing valuation, Wells Fargo has downgraded BioCryst ($BCRX) to Market Perform. Analyst Brian Abrahams continues to believe BioCryst's BCX-4161 hereditary angiodema (HAE) drug "has a reasonable probability of inhibiting kallikrein activity in HAE patients sufficient to reduce frequency/severity of HAE attacks when [phase 2] data [emerges] by mid-year," and also thinks BioCryst's second-gen inhibitors "could offer further enhancements." But which shares having more than doubled from last summer, Abrahams thinks BioCryst's valuation now "more fairly balances" BCX-4161's upside with "risks inherent to predicting efficacy based on pre-proof-of-concept extrapolations."

Merck ($MRK) powers to new 52-week highs as Morgan Stanley upgrades shares to Overweight from Underweight, saying MRK’s prospects for its new MK-3475 cancer drug have improved and could bring $6B-plus in annual sales by 2020.The firm notes MRK’s decision to file for approval for the drug a year earlier than expected while Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY -2.3%) expressed Friday its uncertainty about the readiness of its Yeroy/PD-1 drug combination as a competitor to MK-3475.

ThermoGenesis ($KOOL) has raised $6.67M in a private placement of stocks and warrants with institutional investors. ThermoGenesis is selling 3.33M shares at $2 each vs the company's close of $2.82 on Friday. The buyers will also receive warrants to purchase up to 1.66M shares at $2.81 each. The financing comes after ThermoGenesis last week announced positive results from a Phase Ib trial of stem-cell therapy to treat critical limb ischemia.

The Mayo Clinic has closed the trial of Geron's ($GERN) Imetelstat treatment to new patients after 14 months, although those who are already in the program will continue to receive therapy. The study is evaluating Imetelstat in patients with myelofibrosis and other myeloid malignancies. Geron believes that 79 patients were enrolled in the trial but that 20 have dropped out.

Celsion's ($CLSN) ThermoDox treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer, may significantly improve overall survival rates in patients. The conclusion comes from the post-hoc analysis of the Phase III HEAT Study of ThermoDox; a year ago, the company said that ThermoDox failed in its primary goal of progression-free survival.


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