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Biotech Stock Mailbag: Mela Sciences

@Biopharminvest tweets, "@adamfeuerstein any comment on KERX potential co. selling?"

As I wrote on Wednesday, perifosine could be a $600 million-ish colon cancer drug if the ongoing phase III study is a success, and the drug is approved. So yes, there is potential for Keryx Pharmaceuticals (KERX) to find a buyer for the company, which is what CEO Ron Bentsur called his top priority.

I'd caution against using a Keryx takeout as the sole basis for your investing thesis. For starters, perifosine doesn't have the strongest intellectual property protection. It's an old drug with a composition of matter patent that expires in 2013. If approved, Keryx will be able to extend the drug's patent life out by at least five years, perhaps more if new method-of-use patents are granted.

Whether potential acquirers see this limited patent life as a liability and reason to walk away from a deal is a possibility you need to consider.

Put aside the Keryx buyout speculation and just focus more narrowly on the looming results from the perifosine phase III colon cancer study expected in the first quarter of next year. Super positive results, and Keryx's stock is an easy double or more from here. The hard part, of course, is trying to predict whether perifosine is going to work or not, but that's why biotech investing is so exciting!

Randy M. emails, "Is this the time that Discovery Labs (DSCO) finally gets Surfaxin approved?

You think the fourth attempt at FDA approval finally gets Surfaxin across the finish line? I'm rooting for these guys, if only so that another of my 2011 biotech predictions comes true.

Do I have confidence that Discovery will finally convince FDA to approve Surfaxin? Absolutely not, and neither should you, based on the company's dismal track record. If there's a way to screw up approval for the fourth time, Discovery will find a way.

If Surfaxin is approved, I do have a suggestion for Discovery. Since the infants in the original Surfaxin studies are now adults, they can promote the drug if it's approved.

--Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.



>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Adam Feuerstein.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/adamfeuerstein.

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Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.
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