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ASCO's Abstract Release Day: Preview

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Biotech investors take note that Thursday (tomorrow) the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) will be posting online the full content of research abstracts to be presented next month at its closely watched annual meeting in Chicago.

The ASCO research abstracts will be posted on the group's web site starting at 6 p.m. EDT -- free for everyone to browse and download. The ASCO annual meeting runs June 4-8.

To its considerable credit, ASCO has moved away from its old and unfair practice of disclosing the annual meeting research abstracts only to its members, which of course meant that the stock-moving information (sometimes, not always) contained in the abstracts quickly found it way into the hands of Wall Street trading pros.

Many biotech and drug stocks have already started to run up as investors anticipate cancer drug data destined for presentation at this year's ASCO meeting. Late last month, I put together a list of ASCO biotech and drug stocks expected to present new clinical data at next month's meeting. The list was put together using the research abstract titles, which ASCO released online on April 12.

On Friday, I will update and republish this list of 2010 ASCO stocks with new information gleaned from the full content of the research abstracts.

The following FAQ will help set the scene for Thursday night's ASCO abstract release:

What's a research abstract?

A research abstract is simply a summary of clinical data to be presented at a medical conference. The abstract typically includes a brief description of the clinical study, the types of patients enrolled and sometimes, a brief summary of the study results, including efficacy and safety data.

Study results, sometimes?

That's right. Research abstracts can be flinty on the important details investors want to know. Think of a research abstract as a placeholder a company uses to reserve a spot at a medical meeting. A cancer research meeting like ASCO is a very hot ticket, so companies vie for presentation slots well in advance. Often, that means the cancer drug data companies want to present isn't ready or fully analyzed yet.

ASCO abstracts, therefore, often summarize the study but put off disclosing the important details (like if the drug being studied works and is safe) until the actual data presentation at the meeting.

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