Biotech Investing

Vericel was last week’s top gainer with a 109.17-percent increase. Runners up were Threshold Pharmaceuticals, Caladrius Bioscience, Peregrine Pharmaceuticals and GenVec.

The NASDAQ Biotechnology index (INDEXNASDAQ:NBI) was only 2.69 percent higher on Friday, closing for the week at 2,739.54 points. 
A number of companies from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors were on the rise. Included among their ranks was the week’s top gainer, Vericel (NASDAQ:VCEL). The week’s four runner ups were Threshold Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:THLD), Caladrius Bioscience (NASDAQ:CLBS), Peregrine Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:PPHMP) and GenVec (NASDAQ:GNVC).


Last week was a heavy news week for Vericel Corporation, formerly Aastrom Biosceince. The company is developing patient-specific expanded cellular therapies for use in the treatment of severe diseases or conditions. Vericel has two cell therapy products available in the United States, including Carticel®, an autologous chondrocyte implant for the treatment of cartilage defects in the knee, and Epicel®, a permanent skin replacement for the treatment of patients with deep dermal or full thickness burns comprising greater than or equal to 30 percent of total body surface area. The company is also developing two other therapies: MACI™, a third-generation autologous chondrocyte implant to treat cartilage defects in the knee and ixmyelocel-T, a patient specific multi-cellular therapy to treat advanced heart failure due to ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy.

The company announced this week that it had received FDA acceptance for filing the recently submitted Biologics License Application for MACI™.  More significantly, however, the company announced positive top-line results from its Phase 2 ixCELL-DCM clinical trial of Ixmyelocel-T.
Vericel saw its share price increase last week by 119.80 percent. On Friday, shares rallied 9.62 percent, to $4.33, a new 52-week high.

Threshold Pharmaceuticals

Last week Threshold Pharmaceuticals provided investors with their fourth quarter and year end 2015 financial results. The California-based company posted fourth quarter net income of $69.7 million, compared to a net loss of $6 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. For the year, the company reported a net income of $43.8 million, meanwhile, revenue was reported at $76.9 million.
Threshold is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company working on the discovery and development of tumor-targeted therapies to improve the lives of patients with cancer. The company’s two investigational therapies for cancer treatment include evofosfamide and tarloxotinib bromide*, and [18F]-HX4, a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging agent for hypoxia.
Last week the company’s share price jumped by 75.27 percent. Threshold ended the week at $0.55.
Caladrius Biosciences
Active in the field of stem cell and regenerative medicine, particularly relating to cardiovascular disease, Caladrius Bioscience, through its wholly-owned subsidiary is a leading development and manufacturing parter to the cell therapy industry.
The company did not have any material news to account for the 43.12 percent jump in its share price. However, it did see some analyst firms change their ratings. H.C. Wainwright downgraded Caladrius to ‘neutral’. Meanwhile, Benchmark and Maxim Group issued a ‘hold’ rating. More positively, however, for company was give a ‘strong buy’ and ‘buy’ from WBB Securities and Aegis Capital, respectively.
Caladrius ended the week at $0.84.

Peregrine Pharmaceuticals

Peregrine Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that is developing therapeutics to stimulate the body’s immune system in order to fight cancer. Last week the company announced that it had started formal commissioning of the state-of the art commercial manufacturing facility in Tustin, California.
Commenting on the development, Steven W. King, the company’s CEO and presidet stated “This is an exciting milestone for our biomanufacturing business, which already had 20% revenue growth in our last fiscal year to$26.7 million and is expected to grow to $35-40 million in revenue for the current fiscal year that ends April 30.  The newly commissioned biomanufacturing suite is a state-of-the-art facility that utilizes fully disposable manufacturing systems at up to the 2,000-liter manufacturing scale.  These unique capabilities provide flexibility that can meet the needs of our diverse clients, with the potential to generate an additional $40 million in revenue.”
The company also announced a quarterly dividend to its Series E convertible preferred stock.
Last week, Peregrine Pharmaceuticals saw its share price climb 39.41 percent. The company ended the week’s trade at $15.60.


Clinical-stage gene delivery company, GenVec is focused on developing a pipeline of cutting-edge therapeutics and vaccines using its proprietary AdenoVerse gene delivery platform. The company’s lead product candidate is CGF166 and is licensed to Novartis. CGF166 is currently in the Phase 1/2 clinical study for the treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders.
Last week, GenVec announced its fourth quarter and 2015 year-end financial results. For the year ending December 2015, the company reported a net loss of $6.5 million. Similarly, the company ended the final quarter of the year with a net loss of $1.6 million.
GenVec was up 36.73 percent, ending the week at $0.67.

Data for 5 Top NASDAQ Stocks articles is retrieved each Friday after market close using The Globe and Mail’s market data filter. Only companies with a market capitalization greater than $10 million prior to the week’s gains are included. Companies within the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors are considered.
Securities Disclosure: I, Vivien Diniz, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
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