The biotech sector has steadily enjoyed an increase this year, in part thanks to significant advancements and in spite of the uncertainty from the White House as the proposal of a new healthcare bill holds the grip of most life science markets.
A market report from Deloitte on the whole life science sector indicated a projection of $8.7 trillion by the year 2020. All three major biotech exchange-traded funds have seen relative growth this year with the NASDAQ Biotechnology (INDEXNASDAQ:NBI) closing the market on July 11 with a 17.74 percent increase.
As investors look ahead to the remainder of 2017, the INN profiles the top five biotech stocks on the Toronto Stock Exchange year-to-date. The companies listed below have market caps of less than $500 million and over $50 million. All figures and numbers are current as of market closing time on July 11, 2017, with data compiled from Google Finance.
Fennec Pharmaceuticals (TSX:FRX)
Market cap: 140.63 million; year-to-date percentage gain: 226.44 percent; current share price: $8.52
Fennec is a biopharmaceutical company with a focus on cancer therapies. The company currently has two product candidates, both in the Phase 3 stage of their respective trials. The company’s priority is the SIOPEL 6 trial, which according to CEO Rosty Raykov will be producing results later this year in October.
Earlier this year the company revealed it completed a private placement option for a total of approximately $7.6 million. These new funds will be allocated for the development of Sodium Thiosulfate (STS). The company also announced it had launched a Named Patient Programme (NPP) for STS.
“Fennec will make STS available for pediatric patients with Standard Risk Hepatoblastoma,” the company said in a statement.
Oncolytics Biotech (TSX:ONC)
Market cap; 67.03 million; year-to-date percentage gain: 111.32 percent; current share price $0.56
Oncolytics is a biotechnology company working on the development of REOLYSIN, an immuno-oncology viral-agent designed to target a variety of tumors. REOLYSIN has been a part of several clinical studies and is currently involved in a Phase 1b trial against relapsing myeloma.
The company received a fast track designation for its lead product in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. “Our goal is to conduct an End-of-Phase 2 meeting with the FDA as soon as is practical and obtain scientific guidance,” Dr. Matt Coffey, president, and CEO of Oncolytics Biotech said in a statement.
Oncolytics reported a net loss of over $3.5 million during the first quarter of 2017.
As part of the financial results, Dr. Coffey said thanks in part to the results Oncolytics had seen with REOLYSIN, it is now planning on “exploiting REOLYSIN’s mechanism of action incorporating both cancer cell lysis and immune system priming and activation.”
BELLUS Health (TSX:BLU)
Market cap; 29.42 million; year-to-date percentage gain: 51.72 percent; current share price $0.44
Bellus is a biopharmaceutical company with several candidates in various stages of trials, including a partnership for an Alzheimer’s Disease treatment.
BLU-5937 is the company’s leading candidate, a chronic cough drug with the “potential to help millions of chronic cough patients who do not respond to current therapies.”
Most recently the company announced it had closed the sale of its equity interest in FB Health for a total of approximately $2.5 million. According to BELLUS CEO Roberto Bellini, the proceeds from this transaction will support the development of BLU-5937.
During the company’s financial report for the first quarter of 2017, it was revealed BELLUS sold its subsidiary Thallion Pharmaceuticals for a consideration of $2.7 million.
ProMIS Neurosciences (TSX:PMN)
Market cap; 48.11 million; year-to-date percentage gain: 46.87 percent; current share price $0.23
ProMIS is a development stage biotech working on the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and ALS. The company uses their proprietary technologies to identify the diseases it seeks to treat and then specific murine monoclonal antibodies are evaluated in a 3-step process which allows ProMIS to identify the best products to move into clinical development.
The company offered a second-quarter update to shareholders in which it highlighted the
ProMIS Executive Chairman Eugene Williams said the company is confident their antibody programs could lead to the best in class therapies.
The company is expected to release new preclinical data from its Alzheimer’s disease treatment during the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (July 16-20).
Microbix Biosystems (TSE:MBX)
Market cap; 25.42 million; year-to-date percentage gain: 15.69 percent; current share price $0.29
Microbix is a manufacturer of viral and bacterial antigens and reagents for the global diagnostics industry. The antigens produced by Microbix have been used for research purposes, calibrators for medical devices, as Immunodiagnostic assays and more.
The company reported a 32 percent increase in gross proceeds for the first half of 2017, compared to the previous year. However, the revenue for the second quarter went down three percent to over $2.5 million.
In May the company announced it was consulting with the FDA regarding the plans from Microbix to re-introduce its thrombolytic biologic drug, Kinlytic Urokinase (Kinlytic) to the US market.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.