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By Bert Wilkison

Below is a list of companies that analysts see as being poised for the greatest growth of all the NASDAQ exchange traded biotechs.

1. Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRTX)

Estimated Growth: 885.47%

Vertex is engaged in the business of discovering, developing and commercializing small molecule drugs for the treatment of diseases. The company and its collaborators are working on new medicines to advance the treatment of hepatitis C, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy and other life-threatening diseases.

Its stock currently trades around $37 with 208.57M shares out, giving it a market cap of $7.73B. Institutional ownership stands at 95% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 10.12M shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $45, with the highest estimate being $81.

2. Gentium S.p.A. (GENT)

Estimated Growth: 253.85%

Gentium is a biopharmaceutical company, headquartered in Villa Guardia, Italy, that is focused on research, development and manufacturing of active ingredients derived from natural sources as potential therapeutic agents.

Its stock currently trades around $8.60 with just 14.97M shares out, giving it a market cap of $129.82M. Institutional ownership stands at a meager 10% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 135k shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $9, with the highest estimate being $14.

3. SeraCare Life Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:SRLS)

Estimated Growth: 148.14%

SeraCare has served the global life sciences industry for 25 years by providing products and services to facilitate the discovery, development and production of human and animal diagnostics and therapeutics.

Its stock currently trades around $3.20 with 20.11M shares out, giving it a market cap of $64.16M. Institutional ownership stands at roughly 37% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 57k shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $5, with the highest estimate also being $5.

4. BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc. (NASDAQ:BDSI)

Estimated Growth: 105.95%

BioDelivery is a specialty pharmaceutical company utilizing licensed and owned drug delivery technologies to develop and commercialize, either on its own or in partnerships with third parties, new formulations of therapeutics.

Its stock currently trades around $2 with 29.56M shares out, giving it a market cap of $60.60M. Institutional ownership stands at about 40% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 598k shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $4, with the highest estimate being $5.

5. Theratechnologies, Inc. (OTC:THTCF)

Estimated Growth: 83.87%

Theratechnologies is a specialty pharmaceutical company that strives to maximize its long term value by developing innovative therapeutic products and bringing them to market.

Its stock currently trades around $2.60 with 60.85M shares out, giving it a market cap of $158.21M. Institutional ownership stands at about 38% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 1.54M shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $6.90, with the highest estimate also being $6.90.

6. Amarin Corp. plc (NASDAQ:AMRN)

Estimated Growth: 83.67%

Amarin Corporation is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on improving the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Amarin's lead candidate, AMR101, is currently being studied in two concurrently run pivotal Phase 3 trials. These trials are investigating the efficacy of AMR101 in lowering triglycerides in patients with very high triglycerides (≥500mg/dl) and in patients with mixed dyslipidemia who are taking statins.

Its stock currently trades around $8.85 with 135.50M shares out, giving it a market cap of $1.20B. Institutional ownership stands at about 80% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 11.63M shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $25, with the highest estimate being $26.

7. Affymax, Inc. (OTCPK:AFFY)

Estimated Growth: 78.05%

Affymax is a biopharmaceutical company committed to developing novel drugs to improve the treatment of serious and often life-threatening conditions.

Its stock currently trades around $10.13 with just 35.73 shares out, giving it a market cap of $364.45M. Institutional ownership stands at 95% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 2.33M shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $12, with the highest estimate being $19.

8. Affymetrix, Inc. (NASDAQ:AFFX)

Estimated Growth: 76.22%

Affymetrix develops, manufactures and sells products and services for genetic analysis to the life science research and clinical healthcare markets. It sells its products to pharmaceutical, diagnostic and biotechnology companies, as well as academic, government and not-for profit research institutions.

Its stock currently trades around $5 with just 70.47M shares out, giving it a market cap of $352.37M. Institutional ownership stands at 85% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 6.07M shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $5, with the highest estimate being $10.

9. Curis, Inc. (NASDAQ:CRIS)

Estimated Growth: 75.27%

Curis is a drug development company that is committed to leveraging its innovative signaling pathway drug technologies to seek to create new targeted small molecule drug candidates for cancer.

Its stock currently trades around $4.92 with just 76.58M shares out, giving it a market cap of $376.78M. Institutional ownership stands at about 48% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 5.08M shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $7.75, with the highest estimate being $9.

Source: The 9 Biotechs With The Highest Growth Expectations