Biomira Inc., fresh off a $26.6 million (Canadian) rightsoffering followed by two developmental milestones, isseeing its stock price rebound after a lengthy downswing.
The Edmonton, Alberta, company last Thursday said itreceived FDA clearance for a Phase II/III study of its Tru-Scint AD monoclonal antibody kit for detection ofrecurrent breast cancer. That news followed by one daythe announcement that Biomira's wholly ownedsubsidiary, Toronto-based Biomira Diagnostics Inc.,received FDA clearance to market its Visuwell SyphillisAntibody blood test.
Biomira stock's (NASDAQ:BIOMF; TSE, ME:BRA) hasresponded, nearly doubling from its $2.38 close July 28on NASDAQ. The stock closed Tuesday at $4.47, upanother 28 cents per share.
Jane Jack, Biomira's investor relations coordinator, saidshe expected last week's news to spark an interest. "Ourshareholders were starved for some news," she said. "Iknow they have been waiting to hear about our Tru-Scinttrials beginning in the U.S. We're pleased with the[market] reaction."
Wayne Schnarr, a biotechnology analyst with Toronto-based Yorkton Securities Inc., issued a report Tuesday inwhich he recommended a "buy" rating on the stock,contending it's still undervalued.
Biomira went public in 1991 at $12.50 per share, caughtthe biotechnology boom as it soared to $30, then settledin at about $10 per share. He said the drop from $10 hascentered on two concerns: the ability of Biomira to raisemoney, and the fear that the company's Theratopetherapeutic vaccine would be unable to get FDA approvalbecause it doesn't shrink tumor size.
Fears Alleviated With Financing, FDA Action
The former concern was addressed with the rightsoffering that closed in June. Almira Capital Corp., ofMontreal, invested $18 million in the $26.6 millionfinancing. Schnarr said an FDA advisory panelrecommendation on July 24 could set a precedent, easingthe latter fear. The panel voted to recommendIndianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co.'s Gemzar forpancreatic cancer, even though quality of life was theprimary endpoint with survival as a secondary endpoint;tumor shrinkage was not a critical endpoint.
Biomira has completed Phase II testing of Tru-Scint ADin Germany and Canada, and the just-approved trial willbe the company's first diagnostics imaging study in theU.S. The multi-center trial will enroll 150 patients, with aprimary endpoint being its ability to detect recurrence ofbreast cancer better than mammography. n
-- Jim Shrine
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