September 9th, 2022 | 10:53 CEST
300% chance with MorphoSys share? News from BioNTech and Defence Therapeutics
Table of contents:
Is Defence Therapeutics revolutionizing modern medicine?
Is Defence Therapeutics revolutionizing modern medicine with an unconventional approach? That is certainly the goal the Canadian biotech company is pursuing, and it recently achieved an important step along the way. "The fight against cancer involves multiple but specific strategies that directly target the tumor (e.g. CAR-T or immune checkpoint blockers). However, regression of the tumor alone is not enough, as the targeted tumor can grow again and form metastases throughout the body. In order to prevent this, a therapeutic cancer vaccine must be developed that is capable of destroying tumor cells and induces the formation of a long-term memory response that effectively protects against subsequent tumor recurrence. Until now, dendritic cell-based vaccines have been unable to achieve this goal. Defence Therapeutics has taken a different and unconventional approach by reprogramming mesenchymal stromal cells with its Accum technology to obtain powerful antigen-presenting cells," explained CEO Sébastien Plouffe.
Now, preclinical studies in animals for the development of the novel cellular vaccine to fight cancer have yielded exciting results. Administration of the Defence vaccine, together with the immune checkpoints anti-PD1, have triggered a synergistic effect resulting in the survival of 100% of the experimental animals with existing lymphoma. CEO Plouffe stated: "This is another successful example of how versatile and efficient the AccumTM technology is. By optimizing specific components of the AccumTM molecule, Defence can design new products and extend existing ones that have novel pharmacological properties that can be leveraged in the development of new products to target different cancer indications in a personalized medicine approach." The share has yet to react, trading at around EUR 1.32 on Tradegate. The market capitalization is thus just over EUR 40 million.
BioNTech: Cash for the pipeline
Berenberg recommends the BioNTech share as a buy with a price target of USD 312. However, in order to meet the analysts' sales estimates, the Mainz-based company's order books would have to fill up again when the booster vaccines receive approval in September. It is precisely this scenario that is now becoming more concrete. Following the US and EU, BioNTech and partner Pfizer have received regulatory approval in the UK for the bivalent Omicron vaccine variant of the COVID-19 vaccine. Authorities said that the Comirnaty vaccine met standards for safety, quality and efficacy. The bivalent COVID-19 vaccine is already expected to be used for booster programs in the fall. Delivery can begin in the near term, according to the two companies. As a result, BioNTech should continue to have strong revenues available to fund its development pipeline. Those developments, including for pancreatic cancer and so-called CAR-T cells, will determine the long-term success of the Company and the share. For expansion, BioNTech is looking into opening a site in Isreal. "With its public health initiatives, Israel has become a role model in dealing with the pandemic. It has made significant contributions to the understanding of COVID-19 vaccines and their importance to public health," said board member Ugur Sahin in a meeting with Israeli Economy Minister Orna Barbivai. "Our goal is not only to evaluate technological solutions for Israel's pandemic preparedness but also to establish new research collaborations."
MorphoSys with a price potential of EUR 65?
Is it worth getting in on MorphoSys? The stock is trading near its 52-week low of just over EUR 16. That means the shares of the German biotech company have lost more than 60% of their value within a year. From a chart perspective, the share is in a clear downward trend. And analyst opinions are also straightforward. Three of the four accompanying banks rate the MorphoSys share as "hold" or "neutral". Only Berenberg advises buying. The price target is a proud EUR 65. The last quarterly figures were unsurprising, the analysts said. The pipeline of MorphoSys is making good progress. The main focus is now on the Alzheimer's drug gantenerumab. Deutsche Bank is much more skeptical. Sales of the blood cancer drug Monjuvi were again below consensus estimates. The sales outlook was also disappointing, and the planned significant investment cuts would not really change this. Due to the slide in the share price in recent weeks, the analysts' target price of EUR 30 is nevertheless a good deal above the current price. A change of personnel on the Management Board may bring new momentum to the Company and the share. On October 1, Dr Tim Demuth, currently Chief Medical Officer of Pieris Pharmaceuticals, will assume the position of Chief Research and Development Officer.
"I am very pleased to join MorphoSys at this pivotal and exciting time," said Demuth. "The clinical data to date underscore the tremendous potential of the Company's pipeline. I look forward to leading the advancement of the pivotal Phase 3 studies evaluating pelabresib in the first-line treatment of myelofibrosis and tafasitamab in the first-line treatment of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. If approved, these two drugs have the potential to change the standard of care in aggressive and difficult-to-treat blood cancers. I look forward to being part of this journey and bringing these drugs to patients."
The share price performance of all three stocks has not been positive over the past 52 weeks. But operationally, BioNTech and Defence Therapeutics, in particular, are making progress. MorphoSys continues to disappoint on monetization, and the announced reductions in development spending are concerning for a research-based company.
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