May 23rd, 2022 | 13:01 CEST
BioNTech, Monkeypox, Defence Therapeutics, Valneva - Is the next threat coming after Corona?
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The rapid spread of monkeypox
Monkeypox is a rare viral disease transmitted to humans from animals, most likely rodents. Human-to-human transmission is rare but possible, especially in cases of close contact. In Germany, more people have been infected with monkeypox. The World Health Organization and the Robert Koch Institute have issued warnings. "It can be assumed that possibly more infections will be registered in the next few days." Health Senator Ulrike Gote of the Green Party said there was no reason to panic, but reason to be cautious, as much scientific knowledge about the disease, was still preliminary. "However, experts assume that we do not have to fear a new pandemic. But we must act quickly and consistently to detect and contain cases of infection."
In a recent interview of IIF - International Investment Forum with pharmacologist and head of research and development at Defence Therapeutics Inc, Dr Moutih Rafei, it was possible to talk about the dangers, but also the possible solutions through biotechnology. According to Dr Rafei, monkeypox belongs to the classical smallpox family. Once people are infected, they suffer from fever and pain and feel listless. Also, the lymph nodes swell. Later in the course, dermatological symptoms, such as vesicles, are also typical. As a rule, however, smallpox illnesses heal and ultimately lead to natural immunity. "Anyone vaccinated against classical smallpox as a child also has good protection against monkeypox. I would talk about 80 to 85% immunity. Unfortunately, vaccination rates are low these days," Rafei said.
Flexible platform technology in demand
According to the expert, further pandemics are likely in the coming years. Therefore, the biotechnology industry should be vigilant to be able to react quickly to new circumstances. Defence Therapeutics, for example, is working on a vaccine platform based on which next-generation vaccines and ADC products can be rapidly developed using its proprietary and patented Accum technology for various pathogens. This has the key advantage of ensuring the precise transport of vaccine antigens or ADCs in the intact form to target cells, significantly improving efficiency and thus efficacy against diseases such as cancer or infectious diseases.
The activities of Defence Therapeutics, which currently has a market capitalization of EUR 85.82 million, is divided into two segments. One is the immuno-oncology segment, and the other is the activities against infectious diseases. In the first segment, the Canadians are working on vaccines against breast and skin cancer and antibody-drug conjugates (ADC). The latter primarily addresses the areas of safety and efficacy and offers significant advantages over other forms of therapy. In infectious diseases, research is being conducted into vaccines against COVID-19 and the human papillomavirus (HPV). Here, the Canadians expect to start a phase 1 trial against breast and skin cancer in early 2023.
Innovative vaccine demonstrates complete protection
The Company recently went to press with a milestone. The dual-acting protein vaccine, AccuVAC-PTE7, demonstrates complete protection against cervical cancer. Currently, protection against cervical cancer can only be achieved by using Gardasil-9 or Cervarix, two vaccines that target the L1 proteins of human papillomavirus (HPV). However, there is no cure for patients with pre-existing cervical cancer, and clinical trials previously conducted at other companies with the E6 and E7 proteins were disappointing. "The idea of a dual-action cervical cancer vaccine that can both protect patients from cervical cancer and treat a pre-existing tumor is a giant step in cancer vaccine development. In addition, this vaccine contains only one protein (E7), which simplifies manufacturing and use compared to a combination of 9 proteins, as in the Gardasil-9 product," explains Mr Plouffe, CEO of Defence Therapeutics.
As a result of the general market correction, the share price of Defence Therapeutics has also taken a beating in recent weeks. After reaching annual highs of EUR 3.50, the share price corrected to EUR 2.27. In view of the high innovative strength and flexibility of Accum's technology, Defence Therapeutics should be an attractive candidate for the long-term portfolio at the current level.
Bottom formation in the area around USD 150?
Since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, the Mainz-based vaccine manufacturer BioNTech has impressively demonstrated how quickly a biotechnology company can multiply. While the share price of the German flagship company stood at USD 35 in March 2020, the value exploded to USD 463.93 by August of the following year. Since then, a stronger correction has taken place. Currently, the vaccine manufacturer is tinkering with the bottom at around USD 150 and could start the next wave upwards from this level.
However, the break of the resistance at USD 189.07 and the closing of the price gap from January of the current year at USD 196.00 would be important. Only then would the chart picture brighten significantly. On the other hand, the downward spiral would intensify greatly if the annual low at USD 121.32 was undershot.
The French counterpart Valneva was able to close the price gap at EUR 11.75 in the past week after reaching a low for the year in a countermovement. However, the chart picture becomes bullish only after overcoming the mark of EUR 12.80. In addition, the negative diverging indicators point to a further correction wave.
With Corona not yet gone, a new virus is coming with the monkeypox. So far, according to the RKI, there is no reason to panic but to exercise caution. The biotechnology industry must remain vigilant. Flexible platform technologies such as those from Defence Therapeutics could emerge as winners in the future. In contrast, BioNTech as well as Valneva should only be watched at the moment.
Conflict of interest
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