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Biotech Stock Mailbag: Mela Sciences

Stocks in this article: MELA DCTH DSCO KERX CYTX ACHN VRUS

Perhaps Cytori Therapeutics (CYTX) is the best proxy for making an educated guess about how well Mela will perform commercially in Europe. Cytori has a CE Mark for its Celution System device, which extracts stem cells from fat tissue for use in reconstructive surgery. Cytori has not been able to gain FDA approval for Celution System, however, because the company hasn't yet conducted the clinical trials FDA requires.

Cytori has convinced a smattering of European cosmetic surgeons to purchase and use Celution System, but nowhere near the levels required to make Europe a profitable business opportunity.

Mela lacks the infrastructure, expertise and funds to sell an unproven medical device in Europe. My best guess is that Mela, just like Cytori, will find it difficult to generate significant revenue in Europe. I see no reason to change my bearish fundamental view of the company and its stock.

And for the record, my skepticism over Mela and its CE Mark is consistent with similar bearish view I hold about Delcath Systems (DCTH).

Funny coincidence. After Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACHN) CEO Michael Kishbauch wrapped up his investor presentation Wednesday at the Stifel Nicolaus Healthcare Conference, I saw him chatting with a reporter from DealReporter.

Thursday, DealReporter published a story claiming that Achillion's CEO was considering a merger or a hepatitis C drug licensing deal with Pharmasset (VRUS).

Really? That's a head scratcher. I can think of no reason why Pharmasset would want to sign a deal with Achillion. I'm not the only one who has doubts about this rumor. Brean Murray Caret biotech analyst Brian Skorney is an Achillion fan, thinks their portfolio of early-stage Hep C drugs has a lot of potential, but a deal with Pharmasset? Not going to happen.

"Pharmasset has everything they need right now," Skorney told me. "Any Hep C company would be open to partnering with Pharmasset and that is likely all that Achillion management meant by saying they would entertain a Pharmasset deal."

At a New York investor conference on Thursday, Pharmasset's CEO said the company had no interest in acquiring any outside Hep C drug assets. That should pretty much put the Achillion rumor to rest -- until the next DealReporter story.

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