This email arrived from Robert E.: "I enjoy reading your column and appreciate your insights. I had a question on the Avant Immunotherapeutics-Celldex merger. It seems to me that a biotech with a marketed product (Rotarix), solid technology, a manufacturing facility and now, through this potential merger, with a brain cancer vaccine that appears to delay progression of disease and double survival time, that it would trade above what amounts to liquidation value. What is your opinion?" Avant Immunotherapeutics ( AVAN) has never been very successful from a stock perspective. Yes, the company developed Rotarix, a vaccine for the rotavirus, but the drug was licensed to GlaxoSmithKline ( GSK). After that, Avant sold away most of its royalty rights for upfront cash. Celldex, a spinoff from Medarex ( MEDX), is developing cancer immunotherapies. It tried to go public on its own in 2004, but pulled its registration statement in 2005. Now, Avant and Celldex are merging, fairly equally, although the future pipeline leans more in Celldex's direction, which is probably a good thing. The lead drug candidate from the combined companies (which keeps the Avant name) is a brain tumor drug, CDX-110, currently in a phase II trial.
Ron B. wants to know if Telik ( TELK) is a good investment. "Telik was worth $20 to the market before the FDA shut down studies. Now that things are back as they were, is it worth $20 again?" Telik isn't worth $20 again. I'm not sure it's worth anything, especially with current management at the helm. I'll be shocked and surprised if Telik finds a partner for development of its cancer drug Telcyta. Not much in biotech shocks me, but a deal for Telcyta surely would.
Paul R. ask, "Could you please tell us what drugs are being developed to help people with autism?" I have to go back to 2004 to find the last time I wrote about an experimental autism drug. That was a drug called secretin from Repligen ( RGEN), and unfortunately, the phase III study was a
Fred is another (dis)satisfied reader: "Your analyses are pathetic. You cannot possibly spend enough time properly evaluating the numerous stocks you comment on. It is obvious your research is limited to a few hours on Google and regurgitating the offhand comments of a few similarly useless colleagues. "Your column is a real disservice to those who are looking for sound advice. If you want to have any real credibility, spend the time and do a thorough job of researching. Otherwise, you are just another hack selling useless media, living a parasitical existence never really making a meaningful contribution to society." I do my best, which is pretty good, in my humble, if biased, opinion. That's not enough for Fred, so he's free to read biotech news and commentary elsewhere.