Investors have been flocking to biotech stocks this year, with the IBB, the ETF that tracks biotech stocks, making noteworthy gains. So far in 2015, several industries have either underperformed or provided mixed results, leading to a rather ho-hum showpiece for U.S. blue-chip indices.
Biotech stocks, on the other hand, have consistently returned positive results in the markets over the past seven years. On paper, there’s very little evidence to suggest that the magical rally in biotech stocks will abate any time soon.
Since 2010, the annualized average of the month-over-month performance rate for the exchange-traded fund iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) has outpaced the benchmark S&P 500, often with a wide margin averaging a 1.64% difference. In addition, both indicators peaked in performance in 2011, but the subsequent decline in blue-chip stocks was heavily pronounced. However, biotech stocks bucked the trend, continuing to make strong inroads.
On the trading floor, shares of Ariad Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARIA) dropped 0.45% to close at $6.63. The $1.26B company on August 10, 2015 announced that the first patient has been treated in its OPTIC (Optimizing Ponatinib Treatment In CML) trial of Iclusig® (ponatinib). This randomized, dose-ranging trial is designed to evaluate three starting doses of ponatinib in patients with refractory, chronic-phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CP-CML) and is expected to inform the optimal use of Iclusig in these patients. Approximately 450 patients will be enrolled at clinical sites around the world.
Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ:NVAX) closed at $12.15 with a decrease of 1.54%. The $3.33B company on August 10, 2015 announced positive top-line data from a Phase 2 clinical trial of its RSV F-protein recombinant nanoparticle vaccine candidate (RSV F Vaccine) in older adults (60 years of age and older). The RSV F Vaccine was well-tolerated and fulfilled the Company’s expectations of the primary, secondary and exploratory objectives of the trial.
The Novavax trial was a randomized, observer-blinded, placebo-controlled Phase 2 trial of 1,600 older adult participants conducted at 10 sites in the United States. The trial was designed to prospectively examine the incidence of all symptomatic respiratory illnesses associated with RSV, in community-living older adults who were treated with placebo. The trial also evaluated safety and immunogenicity of the unadjuvanted, 135 microgram dose of the RSV F Vaccine compared to placebo. Finally, the trial estimated the efficacy of the RSV F Vaccine in reducing the incidence of respiratory illness due to RSV.
Celsus Therapeutics PLC (ADR) (NASDAQ:CLTX) ended at $2.90 by losing 6.75%. On August 18, 2015 Celsus Therapeutics Plc (CLTX) and Volution Immuno Pharmaceuticals SA announced that Celsus has entered into a securities purchase agreement for a private placement with a select group of investors, led by Deerfield, and including Venrock, Vivo Capital, Foresite Capital, New Enterprise Associates, QVT Financial, RA Capital Management and certain other institutional investors.
The closing of the private placement is subject to Celsus obtaining shareholder approval of the financing transaction and the previously announced acquisition by Celsus of Volution Immuno Pharmaceuticals at Celsus’ General Shareholder Meeting on September 16, 2015, the closing of the acquisition and satisfaction of customary closing conditions. Following the closing of the acquisition, the combined company will be renamed Akari Therapeutics Plc, and the company expects to trade on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the ticker symbol ‘AKTX’.
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