December 3rd, 2021 | 12:38 CET
BioNTech, Defence Therapeutics, QIAGEN - End in sight?
Table of contents:
BioNTech - New target group
According to Bloomberg, JP Morgan market strategists Marko Kolanovic and Brian Kaplan write in a published study that "Omicron could signal that the end of the pandemic is in sight." The experts base their thoroughly surprising thesis on historical patterns of virus development. Citing scientists, the strategists write that while the Omicron variant is more contagious, it causes less severe disease. If confirmed, "the Omicron variant could ultimately prove positive for risk markets, in the sense of hastening the end of the pandemic." The pandemic could then potentially change to make Corona "more like the seasonal flu," the authors said. Such a development would be consistent with historical patterns of previous viral pandemics.
In contrast, Ugur Sahin, CEO of vaccine manufacturer BioNTech, sees a "tough four to five months" ahead for society. In addition to patience, he said, vaccinations are essential to defeating the fourth wave. In the process, a new target group has been tapped, children in the 5 to 11 age group. Even one week earlier than planned, on December 13, the first tranche of 2.4 million doses is to be delivered to Germany. We are talking about up to 13 million doses of the pediatric vaccine for the EU before the end of 2021.
Defence Therapeutics - Visionary platform
In contrast to BioNTech, with a market capitalization of USD 66.37 billion, Defence Therapeutics, with a stock market value of EUR 132.99 million, is still in the early stages of development. The Canadians are working to develop the next generation of vaccines and ADC products with their proprietary platform. At the core of the Defence Therapeutics platform is ACCUM technology, which enables precise transport of vaccine antigens or ADCs in the intact form to target cells. As a result, improved efficiency and efficacy against many diseases such as cancer and infections can be achieved. Having filed four new patents last year, the technologies of Defence have an increasing portfolio of intellectual property rights.
In this context, the technology can be applied with particular precision in vaccine development. Research activities conducted by the Company have identified that adding Accum-bound antigens to allogeneic DCs (AccuVAC-D001) increases the therapeutic effect of the vaccine and achieves a survival rate of 70-80%, compared to the 0-20% achieved by current experimentally proven DC-based vaccines. After completing this study, Defence Therapeutics has signed an agreement with a cleanroom provider in Canada to conduct trial runs with its DC vaccine. The goal is to complete all required GLP studies by the first quarter of 2022 and to complete a Phase I trial against melanoma in the UK by mid-2022.
In addition, all preclinical activities related to its COVID-19 vaccines have already been completed. The data obtained achieved high reactivity against all variants tested. The second vaccine formulation (DTC-IN003) is a vaccine that blocks transmission to stop infection. Also in development is a vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV). The effect of the AccuVAC-PT009 vaccine is being compared to the commercially available Gardasil-9 vaccine in terms of immunogenicity. In addition, Defence is working on a second HPV-related vaccine that will specifically target cervical cancer.
Through the Accum technology platform, the fields of application seem endless. However, it should not be forgotten that the Company is still in the early stages of development. Due to this, an entry at this early stage is extremely risky, but the opportunities are enormous if the innovative platform continues to develop positively.
QIAGEN - A model of a good start
The share of the provider of sample preparation and testing technologies for molecular diagnostics, academic research and the pharmaceutical industry has made a model run at the resistance level of EUR 48.00. A successful test should lift the share back towards the old high for the year at EUR 51.40.
On the news side, the Company announced the CE mark of its QuantiFERON SARS-CoV-2 test, which can detect T-cell response to SARS-CoV-2 and determine immunity status following COVID-19 vaccination. The QuantiFERON SARS-CoV-2 assay is based on QIAGEN's QuantiFERON IGRA (Interferon-Gamma Release Assay) technology, recognized worldwide as an easy-to-use assay. Unlike other T-cell tests, the assay uses whole blood and does not require the purification of lymphocytes prior to T-cell detection.
"T cells provide us with valuable insights into the immune response to COVID-19," said Jean-Pascal Viola, senior vice president and head of QIAGEN's Molecular Diagnostics business unit. "The better we understand this pandemic, the more likely we are to be able to deal with this threat worldwide, which will continue to be with us. We are excited to make a new contribution to measuring the immune response with QuantiFERON technology, which is essential for disease prevention and management."
It is decided. The unvaccinated are marching into a de facto lockdown. In contrast, experts at JP Morgan see Omicron as a signal that the pandemic is weakening. According to policymakers and industry, the main tool continues to be vaccination and testing. BioNTech is the leader in this area, and Defence Therapeutics has enormous development potential with its platform. QIAGEN is interesting from a technical perspective.
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