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Biotech Stock Mailbag: Derma Sciences

Stocks in this article: DSCI RPC MNKD NPSP

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- I'll be attending the BIO CEO & Investor Conference on Feb. 14-15 in New York City. I'm planning live-blog coverage of the event, which will feature presentations from scores of small-cap biotech companies.

The BIO CEO agenda is online, so check it out and send me an email if there's a particular company you'd like to read about.

This week's Biotech Stock Mailbag opens with a tweet: "DSCI has some interesting foot news today."

Indeed, Derma Sciences (DSCI) shares were up 33% to $8.88 midday Thursday trading on what looked like strong top-line results from a phase II study of the experimental wound-healing drug DSC127 in patients with diabetic foot ulcers.

I knew nothing about the company before Thursday, but a quick scan shows Derma has an established albeit money-losing wound-care business that brought in revenue of $41.7 million through the September quarter, a year-over-year bump of 20%.

Derma's balance sheet is weak, however, with just $409,000 in cash and $1.2 million available from a line of credit as of the end of the September quarter. On a conference call Thursday to discuss DSC127, Derma management expressed interest in partnering the drug and a reluctance to sell stock to raise cash now because it feels the company is undervalued. That might be true, but it's going to be difficult to negotiate a strong partnership with so little cash as a bargaining chip.

I won't be surprised to see Derma raise money soon, especially with Rodman & Renshaw research coverage. Rodman had two people on Derma's Thursday conference call, so you just know the firm is trying to line up a deal as you read this.

With that said, Derma has only 10 million fully diluted shares outstanding, so the company is no bloated pig.

As for DSC127, the phase II results, as presented in Derma's press release, certainly warrant attention. The double-blind study enrolled 80 patients with diabetic foot ulcers resistant to healing with best standard of care. The patients were randomized to one of two doses of DSC127 (applied daily as a topical gel) or a placebo gel and treated for four weeks followed by eight weeks of observation.

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