Biotech Investing

The week’s top gainer was Galectin Therapeutics, closely followed by Albireo Pharma, Anavex Life Sciences, TerraVia Holdings and ZIOPHARM Oncology.

The NASDAQ Biotechnology index (INDEXNASDAQ:NBI) lost 33.22 points last week, or 1.1 percent. The index hit its weekly low on Wednesday morning—2874.525—but rallied through the end of the week to close Friday at 2,978.78.
There were some big winners, of course. The following companies were top performers in the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors:

  • Galectin Therapeutics (NASDAQ:GALTU)
  • Albireo Pharma (NASDAQ:ALBO)
  • Anavex Life Sciences (NASDAQ:AVXL)
  • TerraVia Holdings (NASDAQ:TVIA)

Below, we take a closer look at each company and the reasons behind last week’s gains.

Galectin Therapeutics

Galectin Therapeutics focuses on fibrotic disease and cancer, with products targeting galectin proteins. The company recently announced positive data from an early stage clinical trial and declared plans to find a strategic partner in developing galectin-3 inhibitor GR-MD-02, which is intended to treat severe skin diseases.
Galectin gained 41.29 percent last week, closing at $2.06 on Friday.

Albireo Pharma

A clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, Albireo develops bile acid modulators to treat liver disease and gastrointestinal disorders. On November 15, a key product candidate was accepted into the European Medicines Agency’s PRIME Program, which could theoretically speed up the evaluation process.
Perhaps in response to that good news, Albireo saw its stock rise 20.58 percent last week. It closed at $31.35.

Anavex Life Sciences

Anavex Life Sciences was another major gainer last week. The company gained 18.29 percent, closing on Friday at $3.88. That performance may be attributed to Anavex’s recent announcement: the company has received positive data from its Phase 2a study, which evaluates how product candidate ANAVEX 2-73 treats mild and moderate cases of Alzheimer’s disease.
The company’s pipeline also includes products developed to treat cancer and other neurodegenerative diseases.

TerraVia Holdings

TerraVia Holdings also had a good showing last week. This company focuses on nutraceuticalsspecifically, algae-based ingredients. Apparently, investors got excited about algae last week: TerraVia Holdings saw its stock rise 17.24 percent, closing at $1.70 on Friday.
The company hasn’t shared any major news that would explain that increase. However, a recent study out of Stirling University did show that the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in farmed salmon has decreased by 50 percent. And coincidentally, TerraVia makes an omega-3 supplement. Could the two be connected?


Closing out last week’s top five gainers is ZIOPHARM Oncology. The company, which focuses on both cancer and auto-immune diseases, saw its stock gain 14.24 percent last week. It ended Friday at $7.22.
Like Juno Therapeutics (NASDAQ:JUNO)which announced disappointing clinical trial results last weekZIOPHARM Oncology focuses on immunotherapy, or how the body’s own immune system can be leveraged to fight disease. Could it be that investors, frustrated by Juno’s performance, instead picked up stock in ZIOPHARM last week?
Don’t forget to follow @INN_LifeScience for real-time updates! 
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, Chelsea Pratt, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Related reading:
5 Top NASDAQ Biotech Stocks: Ocular Therapeutix Gains Near 60 Percent
5 Top NASDAQ Biotech Stocks: PTC Therapeutics Gains 88 Percent



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