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Follow @SmithOnStocks on Twitter for more updates ( Please read this section carefully for some important disclosures. Who Am I? My name is Larry Smith. My career was spent on Wall Street as a biotechnology and pharmaceuticals analyst and also as Director of... More
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  • Immuno-Oncology Promises To Be The Next “Big Thing” In Biotechnology

    Immuno-oncology has been the hottest area in biotechnology in 2014 and this promises to continue in 2015 and the coming decade. This report attempts to provide a basic background to give readers a layman's view of some of the new technologies and companies in the immuno-oncology space. There are some truly exciting new technologies with numerous companies using them to develop new drugs. There are many fewer cancers to target than there are drugs in development so that often drugs using different technologies are focusing on the same cancer. Investors must be aware of this and avoid being mesmerized by a new drug or technology that may look spectacular in an absolute sense, but less attractive when viewed against other immuno-oncology approaches.

    My primary purpose is not to offer opinions on individual companies; this will be left to future reports. However, I am currently recommending three companies in this space: Agenus, Northwest Biotherapeutics and Celldex. I also am extensively researching Neostem, Kite Pharmaceuticals and Juno Therapeutics and I may write on them (as well as others) at some future time. My preliminary view is that Neostem looks interesting while the valuations for Kite and Juno are priced for perfection or better. I write primarily on small emerging biotechnology companies and not big pharma because the latter are so actively researched by Wall Street. However, as a point of interest Bristol-Myers Squibb is one of my biggest holdings in my personal portfolio.

    I cannot begin to give a truly comprehensive overview of immuno-oncology and the preceding paragraphs and subsequent parts of this report only touch on what is going on. I expect that there will be other exciting technology approaches within and beyond checkpoint modulation, engineered T-cells and cancer vaccines. I don't think that any one person can truly capture what is going on and I certainly don't represent that I can. However, I will try to find emerging biotechnology companies in this space.

    In order to understand immuno-oncology drugs, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of the how the immune system works. I am not an immunologist or a molecular biologist so that I can only provide a layman's overview of the immune system. I must emphasize that the following sections are very rudimentary and present the immune system in a fairly simplistic way.

    As I was doing my research, I found that in regard to many aspects of the immune system's functioning, I did not have a clear understanding of some basic concepts. This would cause me to delve deeper into the subject and as I did so I found that the issue was always much more complex than I had originally thought. Moreover, I found that experts in the field could have completely opposite views and that knowledge is evolving so rapidly that today's solid belief may be regarded as wrong tomorrow.

    At times, I became so frustrated that I almost abandoned an effort to put together this overview report. I felt that much of my discussion was superficial. It seems almost impossible to explain the immune system in layman's terms without making some huge misstatements. Eventually I resigned myself that even if this overview is overly simplistic that we all need a starting point so that I went ahead and the following sections are the end product of a great deal of work. However, I caution the reader to only use this as background and to rely on your own research in reaching decisions.

    The complete report is available on my website but requires either a monthly or annual subscription to access it.

    Disclosure: The author is long NWBO, AGEN, BMY, CLDX.

    Jan 20 3:31 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Antares Pharmaceuticals: Highlights Of Presentation At JP Morgan Conference (ATRS, $2.36. Buy)

    Antares has hit a somewhat dis-settling stretch as Otrexup prescriptions have recently flattened and the FDA recommended that additional patients be enrolled in the safety evaluation of the QST phase 3 trial. I see these as typical of issues that always arise with biopharma companies and can be reasonably resolved. I remain confident in my Buy on the stock for reasons discussed in this note on my website.

    Disclosure: The author is long ATRS.

    Jan 15 2:19 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Notes From Neuralstem Presentation At Biotech Showcase Conference, January 13, 2015 (CUR, Buy, $3.09)

    Richard Gar, CEO of Neuralstem (NYSEMKT:CUR), made a presentation at Biotech Showcase Conference in San Francisco on January 13, 2015. So far, everything seems to be trending positively in the trials. The Company is roughly on schedule with its clinical trials that are currently ongoing in four different disease states. The NSI-566 neural stem cells are being tested in ALS, ischemic stroke and chronic spinal cord injury and will soon start a trial in acute spinal cord injury. The small molecule drug NSI-189 is being studied in major depressive disorder.

    Highlights of his presentation can be seen at this link.

    Disclosure: The author is long CUR.

    Tags: CUR
    Jan 13 1:45 PM | Link | Comment!
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