The biotech sector has started 2015 with the announcement of several deals. Both Kite Pharma (KITE – Snapshot Report) and Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS – Analyst Report) saw their share prices increasing on collaboration agreements with major companies. Meanwhile, Alkermes (ALKS – Analyst Report) has also started the year on a positive note with encouraging pipeline data.
Recap of the Week’s Most Important Stories
1. Gilead (GILD – Analyst Report) continues to work on strengthening its presence in the liver diseases market. The company, which already has a strong position in this market thanks to its hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection treatments, Harvoni and Sovaldi, is exploring treatments for additional liver diseases like nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The company has inked a deal to acquire privately-held biotech company, Phenex Pharmaceuticals’ Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) program, which comprises small molecule FXR agonists for the treatment of liver diseases including NASH.
NASH, a common, serious chronic liver disease, affects about 10% – 20% of people in the developed world and could lead to more serious conditions like progressive fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver failure. Currently, there are no approved treatments for NASH though companies like Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT – Snapshot Report) are working on bringing NASH treatments to market.
2. Alkermes started the new year on a positive note with the company hitting a 52-week high on positive topline results from a study being conducted on ALKS 5461, its experimental treatment for major depressive disorder. The data supports the company’s pivotal program for ALKS 5461. Results are encouraging with ALKS 5461 significantly reducing depressive symptoms from baseline. ALKS 5461 is one of the most interesting and promising candidates in the company’s pipeline. Alkermes has several more data-readouts lined up for 2015.
3. Kite Pharma is flying high on an agreement with biotech major, Amgen (AMGN – Analyst Report), targeting the development and commercialization of the next generation of novel chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapies. Amgen, given its expertise and focus on cancer treatments, is a suitable partner for Kite. The collaboration also drives home the growing interest in CAR T treatments (Read more: Kite Pharma Up on Amgen Cancer Immunotherapy Tie-Up).
4. Isis, which has collaboration agreements with several big names like Biogen (BIIB – Analyst Report), GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, has now added Johnson & Johnson to this list. The J&J deal, which could bring in up to $835 million plus royalties for Isis, covers the discovery and development of antisense drugs for autoimmune disorders in the gastrointestinal tract. Isis’ shares were up 10.7% on the announcement and hit a 52-week high as well (Read more: Isis Pharmaceuticals Up on Collaboration with J&J).
Over the last five trading days, Amgen’s shares declined the most (4.81%) among major biotechs. Gilead was the only major biotech to record a gain during this period.
Amgen recorded the highest gain (28.35%) among major biotechs over the last six months.
Overall, the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index was down (1.19%) over the last five trading days (See the last biotech stock roundup here: Biotech Stock Roundup: AbbVie’s HCV Treatment Approved, ImmunoGen Plunges on Data).
Last 6 Months
What’s Next in the Biotech World?
Several companies will be providing pipeline updates and financial outlooks at the upcoming J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.
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