Cancer Stocks Are In Focus After Big News From Merck & Bristol-Myers This Week
Just one day after Merck’s (NYSE:MRK) blockbuster FDA approval news, Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) added more fuel to the fire. Cancer treatments have remained a hotbed for biotech companies. Now the R&D from years past seems to have begun paying off. Wednesday morning Bristol-Myers reported its second-quarter earnings.
After dissecting the data, there are several significant things to take away from these results. First, the biotech company is back to growth. The company reported an increase of 16% year-over-year in quarterly revenue with $11.7 billion. What’s more, important to understand is the key driver of this growth.
According to its report, Bristol-Myers cited strong performance thanks, in part, to its breakthrough cancer drug, Opdivo, returning to growth. It was further bolstered by momentum across its new product portfolio. This news comes only 1 day after Merck & Co. announced a new advancement for its cancer treatment, Keytruda. The watershed moment for the company saw its novel drug achieved its 30th approved indication in the U.S.
What Does This Mean For Cancer Stocks?
It doesn’t appear to be a coincidence that these milestones in cancer drug advancement are spurring more interest. Take a look at other companies developing oncology pipelines, and you might see a similar bullish trend. Novartis’ (NYSE:NVS) recent uptick in trading has piggybacked off momentum in cancer stocks. This week, the company reported news of its own after gaining FDA Orphan Drug Designation for its NIS793. This drug is being studied in pancreatic cancer. The ODD was granted for NIS793 combined with the current standard of care in patients.
Meanwhile, BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) shifted from COVID to cancer earlier this month after its latest treatment acquisition from Gilead’s (NASDAQ:GILD) Kite subsidiary. BioNTech acquired Kite’s neoantigen TCR cell therapy R&D platform along with its Maryland-based manufacturing facility.
“The development of individualized cancer therapies is at the core of our work at BioNTech. The acquisition of the Kite facility and its individualized TCR platform allows us to accelerate the clinical development of our cell therapies in the U.S. and advance at the forefront of individualized cell therapies.”Ugur Sahin, M.D., CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech
Not to mention, you’ve also got major M&A deals going on this year showing how valuable oncology treatment pipelines are right now. For instance, Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) acquired Five Prime Therapeutics for roughly $1.9 billion. The deal gives Amgen direct access to Five Prime’s oncology portfolio, including a Phase 3 trial-ready gastric cancer treatment.
Top Biotech Stocks To Watch
So what is next for cancer and biotech stocks? Considering these trends and an appetite for billion-dollar M&A, the market seems anxious to find companies with robust oncology treatment pipelines. In this article, we’ll discuss a few more cancer stocks to watch that have begun to catch attention in the stock market this year:
- GT Biopharma Inc. (NASDAQ:GTBP)
- Fate Therapeutics (NASDAQ:FATE)
- Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE:TEVA)
GT Biopharma Inc. (NASDAQ: GTBP)
One of the hallmarks of the biotech industry is the ability of companies to develop novel treatment pipelines. Many companies look to make a better functioning version of a drug. Others, however, focus on creating a better drug or drug delivery technology altogether. In this case, GT Biopharma has focused on doing just that. The advancements in immunotherapy and targeted cancer medicine have opened a whole new world of opportunities.
If you read the article yesterday, “Biotech Stocks Are In Focus After Merck’s FDA Approval,” we discussed the evolution of cancer treatment from blanketed chemotherapy to individually customized medicines. Natural Killer or “NK” cells have become a key aspect of this “evolutionary” process. In this case, NK cells can be created to trigger certain immune responses in various patients. These cells “identify” cancer cells on their own or in combination with other treatment platforms.
GT Biopharma Inc. (NASDAQ:GTBP) has taken NK cell treatment a step further. The company’s tri-specific natural killer engager treatment platform or “TriKETM” has become the backbone of a robust pipeline of treatment candidates. TriKETM therapy combines proteins that bridge an immune cell and a tumor cell and then exponentially drive tumor cell killing power. It has led to new first-in-human phase studies to treat leukemia and is being studied in other cancers, including breast, lung, gastric, colorectal, and ovarian indications.
GT Biopharma’s Oncology Treatment Platform
GTB-3550 is the first TriKE™ candidate under development to treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). This treatment is currently in Phase I/II clinical trials and has already shown meaningful results in the first set of patients undergoing treatment. Currently, 12 patients are enrolled in the trial, with 11 having reported data. GT Biopharma has already shown that initial study results have shown that 57% of patients experiencing “significant reduction in AML/MDS cancer cell burden” when treated with GTB-3550. The safety portion of the Phase 1 study is expected to be completed in late August, with a data publication scheduled for the end of September.
This week, the company announced that it raised over $16 million in proceeds from the exercise of warrants. With this and the current war chest of funds, CEO Anthony Cataldo explained that GT has “approximately $40 million in our treasury, and we are ready to execute on our plan to bring real, positive change to cancer patients around the world. Our initial drug candidate GTB-3550 is achieving phenomenal results in its FDA clinical trial, and we are looking forward to bringing additional drug candidates into trials very soon.”
The company’s robust pipeline also includes candidates for lung and lymphoma cancers (GTB-4550), GTB-5550 for ovarian and prostate cancer, and GTB-6550 for breast and gastric cancer, among other drug candidates. Year-to-date, GTBP stock is up more than 60%, with 3 analysts placing Buy ratings and price targets ranging between $25 and $26.
Fate Therapeutics (NASDAQ:FATE)
Another one of the companies focusing on NK cell therapy is Fate Therapeutics. The company is working on numerous immunotherapy candidates for patients with cancer. In particular, its pipeline treatments aim to become “off-the-shelf treatments or, for lack of a better term, treatments that can work agnostically for different patients. Fate’s treatment platform is based on its iPSC-derived NK, and T-cell product candidates that it says are “designed to synergize with well-established cancer therapies.”
The company’s NK cell therapy, FT538, was initially set to target indications for acute myeloid leukemia. So far, 1 of 3 patients in the first dose-escalation portion of Fate’s FT538 study showed an objective response and complete Leukemic blast clearance in bone marrow. While a 30% success rate would appear “significant,” this study also had 1 patient that completely discontinued the study before completing it because of a failure to respond to the therapy. However, something interesting to note is that Fate’s FT538 iNK cells were studied in targeting tumor cells in prostate cancer. In the same study that FT538 showed some impact when combined with a human protein known as IL-15, once combined with GT Biopharma’s (mentioned above) B7H3 TriKETM, there was an eradication of cancer cells:
Fate Therapeutics’ Oncology Treatment Platform
When it comes to Fate during the second half of the year, there are a few things to take into consideration. The most near-term is what’s set to happen in August. On the 19th, Fate will host a virtual event to highlight interim Phase 1 clinical data from its other pipeline candidates, FT596 and FT516. These treatments target relapsed/refractory B-cell lymphomas.
FT516 is being investigated in a multi-dose Phase 1 clinical trial as a monotherapy for treating acute myeloid leukemia. It’s also being studied in combination with CD20-targeted monoclonal antibodies for treating advanced B-cell lymphoma. The candidate is also in a multi-dose Phase 1 clinical trial in combination with avelumab for treating advanced solid tumors resistant to anti-PDL1 checkpoint inhibitor therapy. Avelumab is commercially known as Pfizer’s (NYSE:PFE) BAVENCIO®.
As far as FT596 is concerned, it’s being investigated in a multi-center Phase 1 clinical trial for treating relapsed / refractory B-cell lymphoma as a monotherapy. It’s also being studied in combination with rituximab – commercially known as Biogen’s (NASDAQ:BIIB) Rituxan – and treating relapsed / refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia as a monotherapy and combined with obinutuzumab.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE:TEVA)
Finally, Teva Pharmaceuticals is a bit more spread out when it comes to treatment pipelines. While it has exposure to oncology platforms, Teva also develops treatments for other indications.
This week the company reported its second-quarter earnings. Teva saw higher adjusted profit and revenue during the quarter. Kåre Schultz, Teva’s President, and CEO said, “We have performed well in the second quarter, improving our profitability and free cash flow generation. This allowed us to reduce our net debt by an additional $500 million to $22.7 billion, once again demonstrating our commitment to and confidence in our long-term goals. Among our growth drivers, AUSTEDO® sales increased compared to the second quarter of last year, AJOVY® net sales have grown to $70 million worldwide, and our biosimilar Truxima® continues to increase its U.S. market share, reaching 25%.”
AUSTEDO® is the company’s drug used to treat Huntington’s disease, while AJOVY® focuses on migraine reduction. Aside from these candidates, Teva has a large pipeline of additional treatments for a range of indications.
Teva Pharmaceutial’s Oncology Treatment Platform
The company is one of the top 5 global suppliers of oncology treatments on the WHO Essential Medicines List. Teva’s oncology pipeline includes both generic medicines and specialty therapies for treating forms of leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The company also markets biosimilars with the directive of creating lower-cost treatments. These “biosimilars” are medicine very close in structure and function to a branded biologic drug. Some of its current treatments include Truxima for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Syribo in myeloid leukemia, and Herzuma in early-stage HER2+ breast cancer. There’s also Granix in non-myeloid malignancies, and Bendeka in lymphocytic leukemia, among other drugs.
Are Cancer Stocks On Your List Right Now?
Obviously, there are many more companies developing novel cancer treatments. These are just a few that have seen early progress with bullish reactions in the stock market this year. Given the growing demand for new oncology treatments, better delivery methods, and longer-lasting therapies, there’s a good chance cancer research is here to stay. With this latest series of big news and even bigger M&A activity in 2021, it may be time to have some cancer stocks on your list.
Pursuant to an agreement between Midam Ventures LLC and GT Biopharma (GTBP) Midam has been paid $150,000 for a period from March 1, 2021, to April 1, 2021. This compensation is payment 1 of 12 as part of a 12-month agreement between Midam Ventures LLC & GT Biopharma (GTBP), for a period from March 1, 2021, to February 28, 2022. Midam Ventures LLC expects to be paid $150,000 per month for a total of 12 months by GT Biopharma (GTBP). Midam has been paid an additional $150,000 for a period from April 2, 2021, to May 1, 2021. This compensation is payment 2 of 12 as part of the Agreement. Midam has been paid an additional $150,000 for a period from May 2, 2021, to June 1, 2021. This compensation is payment 3 of 12 as part of the Agreement. Midam has been paid an additional $150,000 for a period from June 2, 2021, to July 1, 2021. This compensation is payment 4 of 12 as part of the Agreement. Midam has been paid an additional $200,000 for a period from July 2, 2021, to July 29, 2021. This compensation is payment 5 of 12 as part of the Agreement. Midam has been paid an additional $200,000 for a period from July 29, 2021, to September 2, 2021. This compensation is payment 6 of 12 as part of the Agreement. We may buy or sell additional shares of GT Biopharma (GTBP) in the open market at any time, including before, during, or after the Website and Information, to provide public dissemination of favorable Information about GT Biopharma (GTBP). Click here for full disclaimer.