Moving on to an email from Jon S. regarding Curis ( CRIS - Get Report). "At the last big cancer conference, you applauded Curis and its partner Genentech for their work with the hedgehog pathway. Do you still recommend Curis in light of the current market?" Poor Curis. The stock performed well right before and after the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting last June. Since then, it's been tough, with the stock falling from near $2 a share to around 80 cents today. This fall has more to do with the lousy market and an unfortunate lack of near-term catalysts for Curis than any misgivings or problems with the company and its drug GDC-0449. (For those interested, the hedgehog pathway is not a track in the grass created by the spiny mammal of the subfamily Erinaceinae, but a regulator of cellular growth that when abnormally activated is thought to be implicated in the progression of certain cancers.)
Next up, an email from James W. asking about a small Amex-listed drug company called RegeneRx Biopharma ( RGN). "I don't tend to be a big biotech guy, but I have been trading around with Regenerx Biopharma for about two years now. From a trading point of view, I'm OK. I got most of my current holding taken out at the open today for a nice gain. That said, between the gains I've made in it lately and the news flow on this, I feel like I'm getting a little too positive on the stock, so I wanted to see if you had a more experienced take on this." Regenerx is developing various synthetic formulations of thymosin beta-4, a naturally occurring protein found in human cells that is believed to play a role in tissue regeneration. The company's pipeline is focused on wound healing (both skin and in the eye) and cardiovascular tissue repair. James says he's done well trading the stock, but from a more fundamental basis, I'd want to see data from an ongoing randomized, placebo controlled study of one of these thymosin beta-4 drugs in patients with chronic pressure ulcers. RegeneRx says results from this study are expected before the end of the month.
Before I wrap up the Mailbag for this week, I want to make sure that everyone is getting ready for 2009 with my clinical trial data preview that I posted Thursday. The list covers significant phase II and phase III studies expected during the first half of next year. Companies like InterMune ( ITMN), Poniard Pharmaceuticals ( PARD), Orexigen ( OREX), Amgen ( AMGN) and Neurocrine BioSciences ( NBIX) are included.