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  • Jonathan Poyer

Pick the Best! Marginal or Failed Programs Not Attracting Additional Funding

The S&P select biotech index started the week trading above the 200 day moving average as it seemingly looks for a reason to breakout.

Specialists have been getting more optimistic as the biotech bear market nears the end of its ninth quarter. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting brought a number of data updates, but highlighted the challenges of comparing experimental cancer drugs across clinical trials.

Day One Biopharmaceuticals (DAWN) presenting updated data from the FIREFLY-1 trial that showed favorable results in pediatric low-grade glioma (pLGG). The stock was up nearly 40% premarket on Monday, but ended the day ~flat as investors debated the comparison to competitive products and potential regulatory scrutiny.

Likewise, the BCMA CAR-T space was hotly debated as several early programs demonstrated high response rates (up to 100% ORR), but questions remained on translation of the data to larger trials and potentially broader use outside of a few select treatment centers. Definitive data for potential IO combination partner TIGIT remained elusive as data updates at ASCO were incremental.

Investors are waiting for Roche's (RHHBY) Phase III SKYSCRAPER-01 study showcasing anti-TIGIT tiragolumab in NSCLC later this year for a more definitive read on the combination.

Drug pricing remained in the headlines as Coherus Biosciences (CHRS) announced plans to launch a biosimilar Abbvie's (ABBV) Humira at an 85% discount to the branded price. Humira was the world's best selling drug at its peak and not-surprisingly ABBV hit a 52-week low on the news.

Creative destruction continued as both Novan (NOVN) and Greenlight Biosciences (GRNA) announced 50% reductions in force.

Bellerophon (BLPH) fell nearly 90% upon announcing the Phase 3 REBUILD trial did not meet its primary endpoint. Notable, the INOpulse intervention group actually performed worse than the placebo group. BLPH raised $5 million in early March at $2 and the stock ran to $12 in April before closing below $1 on the negative trial outcome.

The decline in the number of publicly traded biotech companies is expected to continue as marginal or failed programs fail to attract additional funding.

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