Pamela L. asks, "You attended a conference in Boston recently but I never saw you write anything about it. Did you see any companies that you liked?" You're correct. I did spend a couple of days at the Stifel Nicolaus healthcare conference and saw a few promising company presentations. In no particular order: Sarepta Therapeutics ( SRPT): I've written enough about eteplirsen already. This was my first opportunity to see CEO Chris Garabedian present the Duchenne muscular dystrophy data and the overall story in person. I walked out impressed and optimistic about the Oct. 11 presentation of the 48-week eteplirsen data. Clovis Oncology ( CLVS): The CO-101 phase III study in pancreatic cancer is expected to report top-line results before the end of the year. My colleague Nate Sadeghi discussed CO-101 and the study at length last February. He also recommended caution because prior data on CO-101 is thin, making it hard to predict the phase III results with any confidence. I agree with Nate on that point and he was right not with his call not to own the stock since February, down 15%. But I can see the stock running higher into the phase III data (it's already doing so) and I'm more willing than Nate to take the leap of faith necessary to believe in a positive outcome from the phase III study. Clovis has a great management team, too.
Tim P. asks, "I don't know how familiar you are with Celsion (CLSN) and their ThermoDox treatment in conjunction with RFA (and other approaches) for certain kinds of cancerous tumors. At any rate, they have a Phase III trial (HEAT) testing ThermoDox in conjunction with RFA for HCC (liver cancer). They are expecting results late 2012 or early 2013. Do you think that the Feuerstein/Ratain rule applies here?" The Feuerstein-Ratain rule stipulates that the outcome of a phase III cancer study is directly correlated with the market value of the company running the study. A small market value equates to a low probability for success (or a high risk of failure.) The reverse also applies: Big market cap equals higher odds for study success. Mark Ratain, an oncologist at the University of Chicago, and I found that for companies with market value below $300 million, the odds of a successful cancer drug clinical trial were zero. Celsion has a market value of $160 million. If the Feuerstein-Ratain rule is true, Celsion's Thermodox study will fail. Before Celsion fans flood my inbox with hate mail, let me say that the Feuerstein-Ratain rule was developed using retrospective data. Our thesis was confirmed once prospectively with the failure of Keryx Pharmaceuticals' ( KERX) colon cancer drug perifosine. Thermodox is another good, prospective test of the rule, so we'll see what happens. Celsion has a very small following among Wall Street's institutional investors. I worry about that because the commercial opportunity for Thermodox in liver cancer, if the phase III study works and the drug is approved, is substantial. That's particularly true in Asia where liver cancer is much more prevalent. Celsion is tremendously undervalued if Thermodox succeeds, yet big investors show little interest. Could Celsion be one of those rare under-the-radar stocks? Perhaps. But it may also be one that Wall Street has looked at closely and passed on. I'm perfectly OK with saying that I can't predict the outcome of the Thermodox phase III study. There's nothing wrong with, "I don't know." If you're looking for evidence to support a positive result, I suggest browsing through the Celsion blog maintained dutifully by investor Siavoche Siassi. He's more on top of all things Thermodox than anyone I know.
George writes, "You are ignorant, a fraud and quite ugly. Bet you were one of those guys that were made fun of every day in childhood and you never got over it, pencil-
@marianluxury asks, "Updated efficacy and OS data for TH-302 in pancreatic cancer potentially at ESMO, Sept 28-Oct 2. $THLD any opinion?" Threshold Pharmaceuticals ( THLD) will present overall survival data from the TH-302 phase II study in pancreatic cancer at the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) meeting on Sept. 29. The research abstract previewing these new TH-302 data will be made available by ESMO on Monday, Sept. 17.
Saul K. asks, "Good morning, sir. Do you see any future or hope for Aeterna Zentaris (AEZS) or Keryx Biopharmaceuticals? So far, you have been right in your predictions." With the dissolution of the perifosine partnership, you can now look at Aeterna and Keryx as separate stocks now. Aeterna has no future. I'm not talking about the stock trading pennies up or down based on press releases or speculation. Sure, that's going to happen. But from a fundamental perspective, Aeterna is a dead end. The company's drug pipeline has produced one failure after another. What would lead anyone to believe that Aeterna is capable of breaking out of its drug development slump? Keryx Pharmaceuticals may get a near-term trading bump if results are positive from the phase III long-term study of Zerenex, its phosphate binder for use in dialysis patients.
Mahoney writes, "You are pathetic. You are either intelligent and use that to provide garbage to your idiot followers and profit on the market's reaction which should be illegal and you in jail with Big Bubba, or you are just plain ignorant... PPHM" Wow, run-on sentence!
@Atip4 asks, "Rumor spreading $EXEL's cabo will be approved for thyroid this week. Have you heard anything?" No, although I may have played a role in propagating the speculation. I mentioned Exelixis ( EXEL) and its thyroid cancer drug cabozantinib as possible early approval candidates in a column last week. My reasoning? Not much more than FDA seems to be approving drugs with alacrity in recent weeks and the agency did cancel an advisory panel meeting for cabozantinib that was scheduled for Nov. 9. If I were a betting guy, I'd say Ariad Pharmaceuticals ( ARIA) has a better shot winning early approval for its leukemia drug ponatinib than Exelixis does with cabozantinib. Ponatinib better fits the profile of a drug that FDA could fast track through the review process. While on Exelixis, make sure you read Tony Pelz's column on how to trade the stock using options. --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. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.