Portfolio updates –ADC data readouts, AVROBIO, Chiasma

Crucial ADC readouts at WCLC 2019

The coming months will be very important for the ADC industry which has been struggling to bring forward effective treatments, especially for solid tumors. While there have been some positive news (mostly utilizing Seattle Genetics’ technology like the recent  update on GSK’s BCMA program in multiple myeloma), existing platforms are still limited by side effects. In order to address this need, the industry has to find new technologies that would minimize off -target toxicities.

To me, the most intriguing ADC platform today is that of Daiichi Sankyo, which has been quietly developing its next generation ADC platform at a time when most of its peers de-prioritized their ADC programs. Continue reading

Q1 update – GTx, ADC and NASH

Gene therapy – M&A picking up, imminent crucial update from Biomarin

In Q1, the gene therapy space saw one big acquisition (Roche/ Spark (ONCE)) and several smaller deals including Biogen/Nightstar (NITE), Pfizer/Vivet and J&J/MeiraGTx (MGTX). These deals demonstrate the industry’s appetite for gene therapies with an emphasis on liver and ophthalmology as validated domains. CNS (primarily AAV9) and muscle (primarily AAVrh74) are the two other popular domains

What I find interesting in these deals is the fact they weren’t done from a position of strength (as opposed to the Novartis/Avexis deal, for example). Spark was struggling with its HemA program and did not have near term catalysts with other programs. Nightstar was trading around its IPO price with initial XLRP data that were hard to interpret at higher doses. MeiraGTx’s stock also hasn’t performed well and the company was facing an imminent fundraising. Continue reading

Investment ideas for 2019

Despite the recent surge in general and biotech indices I still believe we are in the beginning of a significant correction after a 10-year bull market. If a major correction occurs in 2019, I intend to use it and increase exposure to small cap biotechs as I still believe in their long term value proposition.

With respect to stock picking, the thriving biotech IPO market created a dichotomy. On the one hand, investors have a lot to choose from as the IPO class of 2017-18 includes so many high quality biotech companies. On the other, valuations for many companies (especially the ones without clinical validation) appear to be overblown, driven by hype rather than data. Continue reading

The “Naked” Truth About Antibodies For Cancer Therapy- Part II

Metaphorically, antibodies can be described as unarmed guided missiles, which have extraordinary precision and targeting abilities, but once they hit the target, they inflict minimal damage. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be described as artillery, very powerful, but unguided. In order to optimally use the two, the most logical step is arming those unarmed missiles with a variety of explosives. Using the same reasoning, there is a true need to develop anti-cancer therapies which have an antibody-like specificity as well as chemo/radio-therapy-like potency. Doing so enables us to take advantage of the selectivity of antibodies and the potent toxic activity of chemo/radio-therapy, thus creating superior cancer treatments. The antibody binds the target on the tumor, delivers its payload and kills the cell. Arming antibodies with effector molecules like chemotherapy agents and radio-isotopes results in a hybrid agent referred to as an Immunoconjugate. An antibody which is not conjugated to an effector is referred to as “naked” antibody.

  Continue reading