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With 2021 coming to a close, that means it’s time to look back on the top NASDAQ biotech stocks of the year.

Click here to read the previous top NASDAQ biotech stocks article.

This year, the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (INDEXNASDAQ:NBI) has managed to hold on to the stellar gains it made in 2020 and go on to reach new highs. Starting out the year at 4,730.99 points in January, the index had reached a high of 5,517.77 points by mid-August.

While the index has certainly had its share of ups and downs over the past few years, in 2021 it’s still keeping up with, and at times outdoing, the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:INX) once again.

More growth could be in store in the future. According to a recent report from Grand View Research, the global biotechnology market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15.83 percent between now and 2028 to reach a valuation of US$2.44 trillion.

Driving that growth will be favorable government policies, investment in the sector, increased demand for synthetic biology and an increase in chronic disorders such as cancer, heart disease and hypertension.

Unsurprisingly, the top NASDAQ biotech stocks have seen sizeable share price increases this past year. Below the Investing News Network profiles the year’s five top gainers and what drove their share prices upwards. Data was compiled on December 9, 2021, using TradingView’s stock screener. All NASDAQ biotech stocks on this list had market caps between US$50 million and US$500 million at that time.

1. PDS Biotechnology 

Market cap: US$276.13 million; current share price: US$9.26; year-to-date gain: 332.71 percent

PDS Biotechnology (NASDAQ:PDSB) is developing oncology therapies based on its proprietary Versamune platform, which trains the immune system to perform a targeted T-cell attack on various forms of cancer. The company aims to improve cancer treatment by combining its pipeline of potential therapies with US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved standards of care and with other clinical-stage immunotherapeutic agents.

PDS recently shared that it has achieved several milestones in a National Cancer Institute-led Phase 2 combination trial evaluating the company's PDS0101 — Keytruda — in combination with two investigational immune-modulating agents in advanced metastatic cancers associated with human papillomavirus.

2. Entera Bio

Market cap: US$94.13 million; current share price: US$3.32; year-to-date gain: 207.41 percent

Entera Bio (NASDAQ:ENTX) specializes in developing oral delivery methods for large molecules for use in areas with significant unmet medical needs where the adoption of injectable therapies is limited. The company’s proprietary technology addresses several of the challenges of large-molecule oral delivery.

Entera’s product portfolio includes advanced clinical-stage candidates EB613 for the treatment of osteoporosis and EB612 for the treatment of hypoparathyroidism. EB613 is now in Phase 3 clinical development. The company also licenses its technology to biopharmaceutical companies for use with their proprietary compounds. Once such licensing agreement is with Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN).

3. Briacell Therapeutics

Market cap: US$134.54 million; current share price: US$8.87; year-to-date gain: 112.71 percent

Briacell Therapeutics (NASDAQ:BCTX) is developing immunotherapies for treating cancer and infectious diseases. The company’s lead candidate, Bria-IMT, is an immunotherapy for the treatment of advanced breast cancer.

Briacell is currently enrolling advanced breast cancer patients in a Phase I/IIa combination study of Bria-IMT using Incyte’s (NASDAQ:INCY) checkpoint inhibitors, retifanlimab and epacadostat.

4. Bellus Health

Market cap: US$444.17 million; current share price: US$5.67; year-to-date gain: 85.29 percent

Bellus Health (NASDAQ:BLU) isa clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics for the treatment of refractory chronic cough (RCC) and other hypersensitization-related disorders. RCC is a cough lasting more than eight weeks despite appropriate treatment for underlying conditions. Currently treatment options for RCC are limited. The company's product candidate, BLU-5937, is being developed for the treatment of adults with RCC and chronic pruritus associated with atopic diathesis.

In September, Bellus Health announced positive findings from an interim analysis of a Phase 2b SOOTHE trial of BLU-5937 for RCC. Top-line results are expected in December 2021.

5. Immunome

Market cap: US$208.49 million; current share price: US$16.95; year-to-date gain: 75.11 percent

Immunome (NASDAQ:IMNM) has a proprietary platform to identify novel therapeutic antibodies and their targets by leveraging components of the immune system — known as human memory B cells — from patients who have learned to fight off their disease. It has garnered US$17.6 million in funding from the US Department of Defense.

In late November, Immunome submitted an investigational new drug application to the FDA for IMM-BCP-01, a three antibody cocktail for the treatment of COVID-19. In clinical testing on hamsters infected with COVID-19, it was found that IMM-BCP-01 significantly reduced the viral load in their lungs. It was also found to neutralize variants of concern, including the Delta variant, in in vitro testing. Immunome plans to initiate a placebo-controlled dose-escalation study in patients infected with COVID-19 pending the FDA’s decision to accept the application.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_LifeScience for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: Briacell Therapeutics is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.

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