Which biotech stocks on the TSX and TSXV have performed the best in the past year? Here’s a look at the five top Canadian biotech stocks.
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While not as large as the US biotech industry, the Canadian biotech market is still making a name for itself on the global stage in terms of size and opportunities.
Worldwide, the biotech sector has become a “real industry” that brought “spectacular” returns for mid-cap companies in 2020, according to Jessica Chutter, managing director and chairman of biotechnology investment banking with Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS).
Much of the recent growth in biotech is attributable to technology advancements in drug research and development, said Chutter, who was speaking at a recent virtual event hosted by the Globe and Mail.
Brian Bloom, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Toronto-based investment firm Bloom Burton & Co., said Canada accounts for approximately 3 percent of the biotech sector’s global market capitalization. Also speaking during the Globe and Mails’s virtual event, Bloom noted that Canadian biotech companies raised an impressive US$3.2 billion in financing for 2020.
Unsurprisingly, many Canadian biotech stocks have performed well against that backdrop, and analysts expect those solid performances to continue into 2021.
Below, the Investing News Network profiles the five top Canadian biotech stocks on the TSX and TSXV. Yearly performance and share price data for the companies was compiled on January 6, 2021, using TradingView’s stock screener. All top Canadian biotech stocks listed had market caps between C$10 million and C$500 million at that time.
1. MedMira (TSXV:MIR)
Market cap: C$154.72 million; current share price: C$0.23; yearly gain: 840 percent
Biotech company MedMira is responsible for the development of its Rapid Vertical Flow (RVF) Technology. Rapid-test applications built on RVF Technology provide hospitals, labs, clinics and patients with instant diagnoses for diseases including HIV and hepatitis C.
On the final day of 2020, the top Canadian biotech stock completed validation studies for its REVEALCOVID-19 PLUS total antibody test for the detection of total antibodies against both the nucleocapsid and spike regions of SARS-CoV-2. The test has also undergone a cross-reactivity study using 50 HIV positive specimens, with results showing a specificity of 100 percent.
“The beauty of MedMira’s RVF Technology is the ability to pivot toward the current needs,” said Hermes Chan, CEO of MedMira. “As the stage of the pandemic shifts to vaccination, it is imperative that MedMira can adjust. As a result, and in consultation with our partners, MedMira decided to move forward with a simple solution by launching REVEALCOVID-19 PLUS Total Antibody.”
2. ImmunoPrecise Antibodies (TSXV:IPA)
Market cap: C$347.3 million; current share price: C$20.92; yearly gain: 684.91 percent
Publicly listed top Canadian biotech stock ImmunoPrecise Antibodies is at the forefront of rapid therapeutic antibody discovery and the development of custom therapeutics against disease. Over three decades, the full-service life science company has completed around 4,000 projects for hundreds of clients, including many of the world’s largest pharma companies.
In late December 2020, the biotech firm joined the COVABELP consortium, which is comprised of the Radboud University Medical Center and the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. These institutions have been awarded 350,000 euros from Health Holland to develop a SARS-CoV-2-specific therapeutic nanomedicine to be administered via nasal inhalation.
Intellectual property (IP) generated within the COVABELP program will be jointly owned between the three partners, with ImmunoPrecise retaining the first right to protect and commercialize the joint IP.
3. SQI Diagnostics (TSXV:SQD)
Market cap: C$81.04 million; current share price: C$0.22; yearly gain: 390.91 percent
SQI Diagnostics labels itself as an overarching life science and diagnostics company that is developing a range of multiplexed tests to measure biomarkers in blood or other sample types. Its multiplexing technology testing solutions are provided to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology markets, and are used for human diagnostic testing and animal healthcare diagnostic testing.
SQI has three COVID-19 diagnostic tests currently under clinical development: its direct-to-consumer COVID-19 HOME antibody test, its COVID-19 RALI-dx severity triage test and its COVID-19 RALI-fast severity triage point-of-care test. In October 2020, the company updated shareholders on clinical development, including confirmation from the US Food and Drug Administration that emergency use authorization submission is acceptable for all three of its COVID-19 diagnostic tests.
4. StageZero Life Sciences (TSX:SZLS)
Market cap: C$42.37 million; current share price: C$0.71; yearly gain: 157.14 percent
Top Canadian biotech stock StageZero Life Sciences designed the Aristotle test panel, which was created to screen for 10 different cancers with only one blood sample. The company has dedicated itself to developing tests that will detect cancer early by using whole blood, which means none of the components of the blood have been removed prior to testing.
StageZero Life Sciences’ Sentinel Principle platform was used to develop the first liquid biopsy for colorectal cancer, called ColonSentry.
In December 2020, the biotech company closed a public offering for net proceeds of C$7.2 million. The funds will help StageZero Life Sciences to expand capacity in order to conduct COVID-19 testing and to further develop its existing product lines, including Aristotle.
5. Microbix Biosystems (TSX:MBX)
Market cap: C$44.6 million; current share price: C$0.42; yearly gain: 75 percent
Microbix Biosystems 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, as calibrators for medical devices, as immunodiagnostic assays and more.
Microbrix recently released results for its 2020 fiscal year, including $10.5 million in sales and a 41 percent increase in quality assessment product sales.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.