Today Idenix (NASDAQ:IDIX) gave a presentation and update at the 32nd Annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. As expected, Idenix gave the anticipated update on IDX-21437's proof-of-concept and the extra insights on their Helix-1 trial. Both updates were favorable, but I think the market's incessant pursuit for short-term results really masks the potential for Idenix.
What most piqued my interest was CEO Ron Renaud's statement:
"Now I think a lot of folks at this meeting and in past meetings have been following the HCV marketplace pretty closely, it gets a lot of coverage, it gets a lot of media coverage, and I think most people are aware that the market opportunity in HCV is significant. That said, many believe the greatest market opportunity here will exist in the near term or over the next few years, a very quick spike and then it goes away. We see it a little bit differently and that's for a number of reasons. It's not because we're behind sensible leaders, but it's because we've done some significant market research here, not only looking at this area but looking at the past history of launches in some other therapeutic areas and we've got some interesting slides here that show why we believe this is a long-tail marketplace.There's no doubt that the first movers are going to leverage the pent-up demand that's out there with better cure rates, improved safety profiles and more convenient regimens, but these regimens are still primarily focused on one genotype and right now still have pegylated interferon and ribavirin as part of their backbones and this is going to limit the number of patients that can actually go on these treatments. Even the initial advances into all-oral approaches will not be pan-genotypic. They are still going to be largely focused on genotype-1. So we believe that a second mover with a pan-genotypic nucleotide prodrug based all-oral regimen can garner significant market share, and I'll walk through a couple of slides how we get there." (Author added bold for emphasis)
Taking a page from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ron Renaud and Idenix are adopting the pace of nature, which is patience. It makes sense for a company that creates or modifies biology to mimic nature and use a patient approach.
Attention, care and patience are needed for a seed to blossom into a beautiful flower. Without patience, a seed does not grow. A company with siginifcant amount of seeds - in the form of intellectual assets - need to give the same amount of attention, care and patience found in nature to develop the assets into their potential. Wall Street of course is an environment that is not conducive to patience, oftentimes forcing the seed grower (company) to act in haste and not give the needed attention, care and patience that their assets deserve. Sometimes those assets do not grow to their potential.
Idenixs' drug development is years from being fully developed and put on the market, but Ron points us to the potential of an all-oral pan-genotypic HCV treatment and other areas which their drug development could lead to.
"So you can see here, we have a number of viruses where compounds from our library, we selected just under 3,000 compounds, that at very, very low concentrations, we're able to inhibit a number of well-known viruses out here. So, the ability or the jumping off point to have a pan-flavivirus or other antiviral therapeutic pathways is very real for us and we're going to currently - we're currently trying to figure out how to jump off and move down some of these pathways.
Beyond infectious disease, we also wanted to leverage our prodrug and targeting capabilities. We've developed a handful of early-stage prodrugs that we put through an ex-vivo screen of leukemia cells from patients and it has given us some pretty interesting data as you can see up here on this slide. At this slide, it's very early, it's very basic, it's an ex-vivo screen. These are compounds that have been unoptimized, we have not spent a lot of time trying to optimize these compounds or doing any kind of structural activity relationship type work with these, but very early data comparing some Idenix prodrugs against currently marketed cytotoxic nucs that are out there show that we have very nice activity, in some cases better activity than the currently marketed nucs in this area." (Author added bold for emphasis)
Looking at the big picture, I believe Idenix has a good combination of patient management, talented employees and the intellectual portfolio that has long-term potential. How much potential is debatable but I think it is safe to say that it is large.
Disclosure: I am long IDIX, .
Additional disclosure: This is for informational purposes only and not a recommendation to buy or sell.