3 Sizzling Hot Biotech Stocks Only Likely to Get Hotter

Published: Jul 21, 2017

3 Sizzling Hot Biotech Stocks Only Likely to Get Hotter July 21, 2017
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Three biotech companies are standouts at top performers this year and many investors believe—and hope, no doubt—the climb will continue. Todd Campbell, writing for The Motley Fool, takes a look.

1. Calithera Biosciences

Based in South San Francisco, Calif., Calithera develops novel small molecules against tumor metabolism and tumor immunology. On June 7, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Fast Track designation to CB-839 in combination with everolimus for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma who have received two or more prior lines of therapy. It is a first-in-class, oral, selective, potent inhibitor of glutaminase in Phase I/II clinical trials for solid tumors, including renal cell carcinoma, triple negative breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, and melanoma.

So far this year, company stock is up 435 percent. The company got its first boost in January when Incyte Corp. picked up rights to Calithera’s CB-1158 for $45 million. Incyte also bought $8 million of company stock at $4.65 per share. Then in May, Bristol-Myers Squibb expanded a research collaboration on CB-839.

Campbell writes, “The flurry of activity suggests Calithera Biosciences management is on the right track. If so, it wouldn’t be the first time this team has successfully developed a cancer drug. The company’s founder and CEO is Susan Molineaux, and previously, she was the CEO of Proteolix. As a refresher, Proteolix was acquired in 2009 in a deal worth up to $851 million after it created the multiple myeloma drug, Kyprolis.”

Calithera is currently trading for $15.60.

2. Aurinia Pharmaceuticals

Headquartered in Victoria, British Columbia, Aurinia (AUPH) on June 16, presented new duration of remission data from its phase IIb trial in lupus nephritis (LN) at the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR) 2017 in Madrid, Spain. Low doses of voclosporin showed statistically improved efficacy over the control arm at 24 and 48 weeks.

So far, Aurinia’s stock is up 223 percent this year. Campbell writes, “Results from Phase III trials might not be available until 2020, and there’s no guarantee that voclosporin’s efficacy will be confirmed, but there’s good reason to believe management’s on-target with their assessment of voclosporin’s market potential. Why? After all, before Richard Glickman became the CEO of Aurinia Pharmaceuticals he was CEO of Aspreva Therapeutics, the company responsible for turning CellCept into standard of care in LN.”

Aurinia is currently trading for $6.69.

3. Esperion Therapeutics

Based in Ann Arbor, MI, Esperion is focused on developing a cholesterol drug. Campbell has argued before that Pfizer should consider acquiring Esperion. Esperion’s founder, Roger Newton, led the team that developed Lipitor at Warner-Lambert. After leaving Warner-Lambert, he started a biotech company in 1998 called Esperion Therapeutics, which should be considered Esperion 1.0. It produced positive results on a cholesterol drug, which Newton then sold to Pfizer for $1.3 billion in 2003. In 2008, Newton then launched the current Esperion, which could be dubbed Esperion 2.0, and recruited much of his former team from Esperion 1.0.

Company shares are up 278 percent so far this year.

Campbell notes that the company’s bempedoic acid had positive results in a Phase II trial, cutting bad cholesterol by 20 percent when added to statin therapy, and its Phase III trial is fully enrolled. “This trial’s progress is undeniably good news,” he writes, “but investors have also gotten excited about the opportunity to combine together bempedoic acid and Zetia, a popular drug that’s added to statin therapy when patients don’t adequately respond to statin therapy alone.”

Esperion is currently trading at $47.90.

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