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Biotech Stock Mailbag: YM Bio, Exact, Peregrine

"We have low conviction [ CYT387 anemia] data will different from prior results, which showed no clinically relevant anemia benefit," McMinn said in a preview of the data this week.

2. Is CYT387 safe? For reasons still unclear and confusing (at least to me), a 28% rate of grade 1 (mild) peripheral neuropathy emerged as a worrisome issue for investors when the CYT387 data were last presented. More significantly, thrombocytopenia (low platelet counts) was reported by 42% of patients, including 22% grade 3 and 5% grade 4. It should be noted that YM Bio allowed patients with platelet counts as low as 50,000 to be enrolled in the CYT387 study, while Incyte excluded patients with platelet counts below 100,000.

3. Can CYT397 shrink spleens? Last spring's data demonstrated a 46% spleen response in 52 evaluable patients with a median response duration of 7.7 months. Sixty-two percent of patients achieved more than a 50% maximal decrease in spleen size from baseline; 92% achieved more than a 25% decrease in maximal spleen size.

Significant spleen shrinkage plus improvement in constitutional symptoms is what Incyte used to get Jakafi approved.


@oncobull tweets, "@adamfeuerstein, hey adam, what's up with YMI? acting like a dog ... but its mkt cap is soooo low. ... what's your bet for Monday ASH?"

The only bet I'd make with confidence is that Monday night's data presentation will be controversial. Any flaw in the data will be magnified; positive data will be marginalized. I realize that's a pessimistic view for a drug and a stock for which I have some hope and optimism, but it's a prudent mindset given the way YM Bio traded after last spring's ASCO presentation. I do believe that forced hedge fund selling remains the most logical explanation for the more recent weakness in the stock, but we're not exactly seeing many buyers step in either.

YM Bio has a dodgy reputation, mostly deserved, for developing bad drugs in the past so I'm not surprised that investors, generally speaking, mistrust the CYT387 data to date. I'm hoping this time around is different.


Dapo A. writes, "Adam, what does the Exact Sciences (EXAS) announcement of Dec. 5, selling more shares, mean?"

Exact sold 3.125 million shares at $8, netting around $24 million. This is cushion money -- the company didn't really need it -- but it should give them enough cash to get through 2013 when, if all works well, the Cologuard colon-cancer screening test should be approved.

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