The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) posted its list of abstracts to be presented at the influential Annual Meeting May 30- June 4 last week and investors have been busy going through the information. Why? It is an accepted fact that biopharmaceutical and medical device companies that have an abstract being presented on their new drug or promising medical device can experience nice returns in their stock during this time. The challenge is to parse through all the abstracts and do the due diligence required to identify the company with the drug or medical device, ascertain whether the results of a clinical study are equal to or better than expected and buy before the annual meeting convenes May 30.
There are a number of interesting plays with this year's ASCO abstract list:
- TESARO, Inc. (TSRO) Market Capitalization: $1.16 Billion. TSRO will be presenting final results from a Phase I trial of niraparib, an inhibitor of poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP), on June 4, 2013-- preliminary results presented at ASCO in 2011, and support advancement of niraparib into Phase III trials. The company plans on skipping Phase II and begin enrolling patients in a Phase III trial in the ovarian cancer maintenance setting by mid-year, and to initiate a Phase III trial in patients with breast cancer during the second half of 2013 apparently based on the strong results. The stock has already reacted positively to the confirmation that TSRO had its abstract accepted for ASCO. The 52 week low is $11.05 and recently trading at $35.91. Providing a bit of potential trading drama is the short interest of 1.32 million shares (as of April 30).
- Clovis Oncology (CLVS) Market Capitalization: $969 Million. CLVS has three abstracts (ASCO Abstracts #2524, #2585, #2586) on the clinical results from three Phase I studies of the company's two lead compounds. One drug is for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), in patients with initial activating EGFR mutations as well as the T790M primary resistance mutation the other promising compound is Rucaparib, an orally administered, ADP-ribose (small molecule poly) polymerase inhibitor for the treatment of ovarian cancer. The results are for the Phase I dose-escalation part of Phase I/II clinical trials. The company's stock is trading around $35.60 with a 52 week low of $11.19 As of April 30, there were 1.725 million shares shorted.
- Competitive Technologies (OTCPK:CTTC) Market Capitalization:$4.88 Million. CTTC's non-invasive and non-narcotic medical device, known as Calmare, for the treatment of chronic pain, such as Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN) may be mentioned in a panel discussion on "Responding to Common Concerns of Patients with Cancer: What's New-In a Nutshell-From Research to Therapeutic Strategies". Dr. Charles Loprinzi of the Mayo Clinic, one of the panelists, is involved with three (3) ongoing clinical studies on the effects of Calmare on chronic pain and recently expanded one study to include 150 patients from 100 patients--usually a good sign that the results already recorded is worthwhile enough to add patients. In an abstract on preliminary results of a study presented at ASCO last year was the "Conclusions: Scrambler therapy appears to be beneficial in the treatment of CIPN. A prospective placebo‐controlled clinical trial should be performed to confirm these preliminary findings." That clinical trial is being performed by the Mayo Clinic. What makes CTTC of particular interest is its very low market cap of only $5 Million. Medical device companies such as Boston Scientific Corporation (BSX), Stryker Corporation (SYK) and Medtronic, Inc. (MDT) could find Calmare as a good fit in their device portfolio should the company begin to see broadly accepted insurance reimbursement for the procedure.
- Curis (CRIS) Market Capitalization--$314 Million. CRIS will be presenting two studies on Erivedge, the first and only FDA-approved pharmaceutical for the treatment of advanced basal cell carcinoma which is being commercialized and developed by Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY) and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, under a collaboration agreement between Curis and Genentech. Curis is also presenting a clinical abstract reporting Phase I clinical results of CUDC-427, a small molecule antagonist of IAP proteins, which has been selected for oral presentation. Currently trading at $3.91 with a short interest of 4.897 Million shares, CRIS is trading below it 52 week high of $5.51.
- Halozyme (HALO) Market Capitalization--$851 Million. HALO will be presenting data from a clinical study of their drug compound for the treatment of pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer. Clinical data from a Phase Ib trial of PEGPH20 (PEGylated Recombinant Human Hyaluronidase), an investigational new biologic, in combination with gemcitabine for treatment of patients with stage IV metastatic pancreatic cancer will be presented. The company has already announced that based on the results of this study, the company has begun a Phase II multicenter, randomized clinical trial evaluating PEGPH20 as a first-line therapy for patients with stage IV metastatic pancreatic cancer. Analysts following HALO forecast a 30% increase in revenue year over year. With over $100 million in cash and drug development partners which include Baxter International (BAX), Pfizer (PFE), Roche and ViroPharma (VPHM), HALO is well positioned to advance their promising drug candidates through the clinical trial process. HALO is trading in the middle of its 52 week trading range at $7.57, well off its 52 week low of $3.86 but below its high of $9.92. Short interest is 9.659 Million shares (as of April 30).
With media attention always high during ASCO, the above stocks are worth monitoring for analyst upgrades and increased investor interest.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.