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Recently, the bio pharma sector saw a year to date high in the overall index. This normally happens every year right before the June ASCO meetings in Chicago, IL. ASCO stands for the American Society of Clinical Oncology and is the premier event for oncology professionals including researchers, physicians, and pharmaceutical companies.

Many savvy bio pharma traders pick this time to get the most aggressive with their trades, and normally make the most profit during this time of year. Many bio pharma companies not presenting at the ASCO conference still see large percentage gains in their stock prices this time of year as well, so investors/traders should be mindful of the entire sector and watch for momentum plays and big money flows into many of these stocks.

Below are 5 bio pharmas I feel are going to make nice move upwards for today and the 3 weeks leading up to the ASCO conference.

Galena Biopharma (NASDAQ:GALE) 5/15/12 pps $1.12

Galena engages in discovering, developing, and commercializing innovative therapies addressing unmet medical needs using targeted biotherapeutics.

Potential Catalyst: The ASCO presentation on Neuvax (E75) breast cancer vaccine in a poster discussion session. NeuVax consists of the E75 peptide derived from HER2 combined with the immune adjuvant granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF). Treatment with NeuVax stimulates cytotoxic (CD8+) T cells in a highly specific manner to target cells expressing any level of HER2. NeuVax is given as an intradermal injection once a month for six months, followed by a booster injection once every six months. Based on a successful Phase II trial, which achieved its primary endpoint of disease free survival, the FDA granted NeuVax a Special Protocol Assessment for a Phase III clinical trial in adjuvant therapy of women with low-to-intermediate (also known as HER2-Negative, not eligible for Herceptin) status.

Presentation time: Sat, Jun 2 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Spectrum Pharma (NASDAQ:SPPI) 5/15/12 pps: $12.14

Spectrum engages in acquiring, developing, and commercializing prescription drug products primarily in the areas of hematology and oncology.

Potential Catalyst: The ASCO presentation on Belinostat for advanced or recurrent thymic malignancies Phase 1/2 data in a General Poster Session.

Belinostat (PXD 101) is an HDAC inhibitor in late stage clinical development with more than 700+ patients treated to date. Belinostat is believed to inhibit enzymatic activity of class 1 and class 2 HDACs. Belinostat is also believed to increase in acetylation of both Listor and Listor proteins, resulting in cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and a decrease in cell proliferation.

Presentation time: Sat, Jun 2 1:15 PM - 5:15 PM

ImmunoCellular Therapeutics (IMUC.OB) 5/15/12 pps: $2.70

ImmunoCellular focuses on developing and commercializing therapeutics to treat cancer using the immune system.

Potential Catalyst: The ASCO General Poster Session abstract data presentation of a randomized, double‑blind, controlled phase IIb study of the safety and efficacy of ICT‑107 in newly diagnosed patients with glioblastoma multiforme following resection and chemoradiation.

ICT-107 is an autologous, or personalized, dendritic cell-based vaccine that works by activating a patient's immune system against specific tumor-associated antigens. This is accomplished by extracting dendritic cells from a patient, loading them with the antigens, and reintroducing them to the patient's body to trigger an immune response.

Presentation time: Sat, Jun 2 1:15 PM - 5:15 PM

Threshold Pharma (NASDAQ:THLD) 5/15/12 pps: $6.45

Threshold focuses on the discovery and development of drugs for the microenvironment of solid tumors and the bone marrows of hematologic malignancies as novel treatments for patients living with cancer.

Potential Catalysts: 2 ASCO General poster sessions: TH-302 Phase 1 data on advanced leukemias Phase 1. TH-302 Cancer - soft tissue sarcoma Phase 3 Data. May 16th 2012 abstract data TH-302 expected.

TH-302 is an anticancer agent in clinical development at Threshold. Preclinically, it is preferentially activated under hypoxic conditions and has demonstrated potent anticancer activity in many preclinical cancer models. TH-302 is converted selectively to the drug's active form, dibromo isophoramide mustard, a potent DNA alkylator, within hypoxic tumor cells. TH-302 targets levels of hypoxia that are common in tumors but are rare in normal tissues - this is how selective targeting of the tumor occurs. After conversion to the active form of the drug, the more resistant hypoxic cells are exposed to high concentrations of released cytotoxic agent, which can also diffuse into the surrounding oxygenated regions of the tumor, exerting what is referred to as a bystander effect. In this way, TH-302 can kill more of the tumor than can otherwise be accounted for by the hypoxic fraction alone.

Presentation times: Sun, Jun 3 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM, and Mon, Jun 4 1:15 PM - 5:15 PM

Amarin Corporation (NASDAQ:AMRN) 5/15/12 pps: $11.18

Amarin focuses on developing the treatment for cardiovascular disease in the field of lipid science.

Potential Catalyst: PDUFA date July 26, 2012 for AMR101 in patients with very high triglycerides.

AMR101 is an investigational ultra-pure omega-3 fatty acid in a capsule, comprising not less than 96% icosapent ethyl (ethyl-EPA) in a capsule. Amarin is developing AMR101 for the potential treatment of patients with very high triglyceride levels and high triglyceride levels, or hypertriglyceridemia. Triglycerides are fats in the blood.

In another article I wrote, I misstated a fact concerning AMR101, and compared it to Lipitor. This was erroneous on my behalf as Lipitor is used to mainly treat patients high cholesterol levels while AMR101 is more in line to compete with Lovaza, which also focuses on patients with elevated triglyceride levels. AMR101, if approved, should compete well in a market space well over 1 billion dollars. For a really in-depth, well written article here on Seeking Alpha that received an editor's pick recommendation, see this article written by SA author Iggy Igette.

I believe IMUC.OB has the biggest short term upside percentage potential out of these 5 companies with potential catalysts while SPPI, THLD, and AMRN have very good long term potential in my opinion.

Source: May 16th's Bio Pharma Catalyst Watch List