Healthcare Review: Gene Technologies, StemCells, NeoStem, Intermune, AstraZeneca Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Monday, 19 May 2014 12:46
U.S. stocks mostly advanced on Monday as investors exercised caution over valuations after a run of mixed economic data, but another drop in bond yields helped support equities. U.S.-listed shares of AstraZeneca tumbled 11.1 percent to $71.39. The British drug maker rejected a sweetened and final merger offer from Pfizer that would have created the world's largest pharmaceuticals group. Pfizer shares climbed 1.1 percent to $29.45.

Gene Technologies ($GENE) completes its share exchange deal with entities associated Dr. Mervyn Jacobson, the company's largest shareholder. The Jacobson Entities will exchange 75,937,500 shares in ASX:GTG for 4.5M shares in Gene Tech-owned ImmunAid Ltd.ImmunAid grants GTG 2.25M options on ImmunAid shares at $1.35 for a fee of $500K ($385,841 in debt forgiveness plus $114,159 in cash).

StemCells ($STEM) says that two additional patients have experienced "significant" gains in sensory function after receiving cell transplants using the company's HuCNS-SC (purified human neural stem cells) platform technology for spinal-cord injury. A third subject remained stable. Previously, two patients who had no mobility or sensory perception below the point of injury, experienced improvement in their symptoms. The patients in the latest results are less-severely injured.

NeoStem ($NBS) has received the first two European patents for its CD34 Cell program, in which the company is developing treatments for ischemia, when the supply of oxygenated blood in the body is restricted. The IP is for "Compositions and Methods of Vascular Injury Repair." The CD34 program now has 16 granted and allowed patents around the world.

Intermune ($ITMN) reports results from its Ascend Phase 3 clinical trial evaluating pirfenidone in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). It achieved its primary endpoint of significantly reducing the decline in lung function as measured by percent forced vital capacity (FVC) from baseline to week 52. The magnitude of the treatment effect was measured by comparing the proportion of patients in the pirfenidone and placebo groups experiencing either a 10% decline in FVC or death. A 10% decline is strongly predictive of a higher risk of mortality.

Leading AstraZeneca ($AZN) shareholders aren't happy about the company's rebuffing of Pfizer's latest £69B ($117B) offer. Jupiter Fund Management, a top-30 shareholder in the U.K. pharmaceuticals provider, is "disappointed" that the rejection was so categorical. "They should have at least engaged in a constructive assess the opportunities that a combined entity could bring," Jupiter says. A fund manager at a top 10 investor says: "We do not think the Astra management have done a good job on behalf of shareholders."

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