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By Ian Hoffman

Below is a list of this year's best performing high risk/reward biotech stocks that are trading under $5.00 a share, have an average daily trading volume of at least 125k shares and can boast the best combined 1-week, 1-month, and YTD returns for their shareholders.

Agenus, Inc. (NASDAQ:AGEN): Last Price: $4.40

1-Week Price Change: 36.22%

4-Week Price Change: 26.08%

YTD Price Change: 120%

Average Daily Volume: 190,032

From the company:

Co-founded in 1994 by Garo Armen and Pramod Srivastava as Antigenics, our company has outgrown its name but never its raison d'être: to develop and commercialize breakthrough immunotherapies for cancer and infectious diseases. Today we're reaching far beyond antigens and discovering new ways to speed our progress. Because we know the patient is waiting. At today's Agenus now more than ever before, we are inspired by the power of ideas, by the application of science, and by the deep convictions and commitment we share with our growing circle of partners and collaborators.

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With 22.49M shares out, Agenus currently has a market cap of $98.97M. Institutional ownership stands at a mere 21% with the short interest as of 02/29/12 being 176,093 shares. The average analyst price target is $7.00.

On 09/26/11, the company announced positive results from a randomized, four-arm Phase 1 study of HerpV, a recombinant (off-the-shelf) therapeutic vaccine for the treatment of genital herpes, which included the company's QS-21 Stimulon adjuvant. On 12/19/11 it announced that it had entered into a license, development and manufacturing technology transfer agreement with NewVac, LLC for its Oncophage (HSPPC-96; Vitespen) vaccine.

Lastly, on 03/05/12 the company announced that it had amended its QS-21 license and manufacturing agreement with GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) to include additional rights for the use of its QS-21 Stimulon adjuvant in GSK Biologicals' adjuvant systems and that it had agreed to grant GSK the first right to negotiate for the purchase of the company as a whole, as well as certain assets.

Keryx Biopharma (NASDAQ:KERX): Last Price: $4.21

1-Week Price Change: 13.78%

4-Week Price Change: 31.56%

YTD Price Change: 66.4%

Average Daily Volume: 3,441,527

From the company:

Keryx Biopharmaceuticals is focused on the acquisition, development and commercialization of medically important pharmaceutical products for the treatment of life-threatening diseases, including cancer and renal disease. Keryx is developing KRX-0401 (Perifosine), a novel, potentially first-in-class, oral anti-cancer agent that inhibits Akt activation in the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway, and also affects a number of other key signal transduction pathways, including the JNK pathway, all of which are pathways associated with programmed cell death, cell growth, cell differentiation and cell survival.

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With 71.02M shares out, Keryx currently has a market cap of $2.99M. Institutional ownership stands at about 30% with the short interest as of 02/29/12 being 11.54M shares. The average analyst price target is $8.00.

Much of the recent run up can be attributed to the widely anticipated phase 3 trial results for a colorectal cancer drug candidate, Perifosine, which the company is currently collaborating with Aeterna Zentaris (NASDAQ:AEZS) on. The results are expected to come out sometime over the next several weeks. Additionally, some have speculated that the company is a potential 2012 takeover target.

Sunesis Pharma (NASDAQ:SNSS): Last Price: $2.29

1-Week Price Change: 32.37%

4-Week Price Change: 37.95%

YTD Price Change: 95.73%

Average Daily Volume: 430,977

From the company:

Sunesis is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of new oncology therapeutics for the treatment of solid and hematologic cancers. Sunesis has built a highly experienced cancer drug development organization committed to advancing its lead product candidate, Vosaroxin, in multiple indications to improve the lives of people with cancer.

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With just 46.71M shares out, Sunesis currently has a market cap of $106.97M. Institutional ownership is around 54% with the short interest as of 02/29/12 being 1.73M. The average analyst price target is $4.00.

On 12/09/11, Sunesis announced that the independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board had completed a planned periodic safety review for its VALOR trial and recommended that it continue as planned without changes to study conduct. On 02/14/12, the company announced that the USPTO issued a Notice of Allowance for U.S. Patent Application No. 12,982,785, claiming certain compositions related to the company's lead drug candidate, Vosaroxin.

Talon Therapeutics (OTC:TLON): Last Price: $1.20

1-Week Price Change: 33.33%

4-Week Price Change: 30.43%

YTD Price Change: 191.97%

Average Daily Volume: 136,453

From the company:

Talon Therapeutics, Inc. is a San Francisco Bay Area-based biopharmaceutical company dedicated to seizing upon medical opportunities, efficiently and expertly leading product candidates through clinical development, and transferring value to patients, patient care providers, shareholders, corporate partners, and employees.

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With a mere 21.78M shares out, Talon currently has a market cap of $26.13M. Institutional ownership stands at just 22%. Being that the stock trades on the OTC market, short interest and analyst coverage data is unavailable.

Shares of Talon, formerly known as Hana Biosciences, have experienced an incredible, yet expected run-up over the last several months, leading up to the upcoming AdComm panel decision, which is scheduled to be handed down to the company on 03/21/12 for Marqibo, its drug candidate for the treatment of adult Philadelphia chromosome-negative acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The PDUFA date for Marqibo is scheduled for 05/13/12.

Xoma Corp. (NASDAQ:XOMA) Last Price: $1.86

1-Week Price Change: 24%

4-Week Price Change: 21.57%

YTD Price Change: 61.74%

Average Daily Volume: 857,699

From the company:

XOMA's world-class monoclonal antibody technologies have contributed to the development of marketed biologics with a total of more than $1 billion in annual sales and for which XOMA received substantial royalties. The company also has a strong track record of product discovery and development collaborations with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and the U.S. government, and has licensed certain of its fundamental technologies to numerous pharma and biotech companies.

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With 34.25M shares out, Xoma currently has a market cap of $63.70M. Institutional ownership stands at a paltry 4% with the short interest as of 02/29/12 being 273,222. The average analyst price target is $5.50.

On 10/03/11, Xoma announced that it has been awarded a government contract for up to $28 million over a five year span to develop broad-spectrum antitoxins for the treatment of human botulism poisoning. On 01/17/12 it announced that it has acquired U.S. rights to the Perindopril franchise from Les Laboratoires Servier, which is the company's partner for its lead product candidate, Gevokizumab. Last

Tuesday, the company announced the pricing of 29,669,154 shares of its common stock and accompanying warrants to purchase one half of a share of common stock for each share purchased at a price to the public of $1.32. The warrants are exercisable at an exercise price of $1.76 per share beginning on the date of issuance and will expire on the fifth anniversary of the date of issuance. The company expects the net proceed of the offering to be about $36M and will be used to fund its pipeline and operations.

Source: The 5 Best Performing High Risk/Reward Biotech Stocks Of 2012