The first quarter of 2019 is done, which means it’s time to look back on the top performing NASDAQ biotech stocks year-to-date.
The first quarter of the year has been kind to the biotechnology sector in terms of stock performance and the overarching NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (INDEXNASDAQ:NBI).
Since the start of the year, the index had increased from 3,061.26 points to 3,550.2 points as of Thursday (April 4), which is a 16.46 percent bump over the three month period.
According to Global Industry Journal, the global biotechnology market grew substantially in 2018; between now and 2024, it is projected to continue increasing, which is good news for investors.
Fueling the industry over the course of this year will be a surge of mergers and acquisitions, which are projected to surpass last year’s figures, according to a report from Research and Markets.
On that note, with the first quarter of the year officially in the books, here the Investing News Network is profiling the five top NASDAQ biotech stocks year-to-date. All companies listed below have market caps between US$50 million and US$500 million with data compiled using TradingView’s stock screener. All numbers and figures were current as of market close on April 4, 2019.
1. Axsome Therapeutics (NASDAQ:AXSM)
Market cap: US$455.94 million; current share price: US$13.70; year-to-date gain: 406.34 percent
Axsome Therapeutics is a company catered to developing therapies for central nervous system disorders that don’t have a lot of treatment options.
The company currently has four products in different clinical stages: AXS-05, AXS-07, AXS-09 and AXS-12.
In late March, Axsome Therapeutics received breakthrough therapy designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for AXS-05. This drug aims to treat major depressive disorder, which is estimated to impact 6.7 percent of US adults.
2. Trevena (NASDAQ:TRVN)
Market cap: US$144.07 million; current share price: US$1.56, year-to-date gain: 183.64 percent
Trevena has a pipeline of products geared at treating serious conditions that have unmet medical needs. The company’s lead product candidate, oliceridine injection, was developed to treat moderate to severe acute pain. Oliceridine injection was previously granted breakthrough therapy designation by the FDA.
Trevena announced in mid-March that the Journal of Pain Research released a publication highlighting the company’s lead drug. According to the study findings, oliceridine injection demonstrated it was superior to the placebo in patients with moderate to severe acute pain post-surgery.
3. Curis (NASDAQ:CRIS)
Market cap: US$73.26 million; current share price: US$2.21; year-to-date gain: 173.17 percent
Curis is working on drug treatments for cancer and currently has five different drug candidates in various stages of development in its pipeline: CUDC-907, CA-170, CA-4948, CA-327 and Erivedge.
While Curis released a wide range of updates over the quarter, the most notable announcement came in late January. In a press release, the company announced that the first patient had been dosed in its CA-170 study for treating mesothelioma, which is a cancer that develops about 40 years after being exposed to asbestos.
4. BioXcel Therapeutics (NASDAQ:BTAI)
Market cap: US$159.79 million; current share price: US$10.20; year-to-date gain: 171.06 percent
BioXcel Therapeutics is primarily focused on neuroscience and immuno-oncology medicines. The company currently has four products in different stages of clinical trials. BXCL501 is geared towards treating geriatric dementia, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; BXCL701, neuroendocrine prostrate cancer and pancreatic cancer; BXCL502, neurodegeneration; and BCXL702, hematological malignancies.
In late March, BioXcel Therapeutics filed a clinical trial application for use of BXCL701 with pembrolizumab, a combination that aims to treat neuroendocrine prostate cancer.
5. Spero Therapeutics (NASDAQ:SPRO)
Market cap: US$237.92 million; current share price: US$13.82; year-to-date gain: 112.94 percent
Spero Therapeutics is working on products to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections, and it has three main programs in its pipeline.
The first, SPR994, is Spero’s lead — and most advanced — drug candidate. SPR994 is indicated to treat adult patients with multi-drug-resistant gram-negative urinary tract infections and acute pyelonephritis, which is a bacterial infection of the renal pelvis and kidney. The company’s second program, SPR7200, is for patients with pulmonary non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections. The last item in its pipeline is the Intravenous Potentiator Platform, which includes SPR206 and SPR471 and is also for patients with multi-drug-resistant gram-negative bacterial infections in the hospital.
Spero Therapeutics’ latest news came in late March when it received fast track designation from the FDA for SPR994.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Jocelyn Aspa, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.