New of Geron Corp.’s (NSDQ:GERN) plan to get out of the stem cells game could be a boon for other regenerative medicine firms, including InVivo Therapeutics (OTC:NVIV), Aastrom Biosciences (NSDQ:ASTM), StemCells (NSDQ:STEM) and Pluristem (NSDQ:PSTI).
Geron said Nov. 14 that it will ditch its embryonic stem cell research projects, citing "capital scarcity" and the cost of R&D as partial reasons for the move. The company will focus on cancer drugs going forward, it said.
That leaves a big opening for other firms that play in the space, according to a Seeking Alpha blogger.
"In fact, it bodes particularly well for InVivo Therapeutics," according to "Timeless Wealth," which bills itself as "a leading publisher of investment-opinion content supported by research."
"Geron’s GRNOPC1, a Human Embryonic Stem Cell (hESC) therapy, was in Phase I trials for the same indication – before Geron pulled the plug on the program," according to a post on the investment website. "Investors who sought exposure in stem cell research allocated capital and invested in Geron Corporation. And just as their clinical focus has shifted, so will investors’ dollars. Aastrom Biosciences, StemCells, and Pluristem are a few regenerative-medicine firms that could be the beneficiaries of a shift in assets. InVivo Therapeutics, similarly, is the only pure-play [spinal cord injury] company, and non-coincidentally, one that recently signed on Dr. Edward Wirth, who led the world’s first human embryonic stem cell clinical trial as medical director for regenerative medicine – at Geron."
Steris flags on slow FDA clearance for System 1E component
Sluggish sales of Steris Corp.’s (NYSE:STE) flagship sterilization device, the System 1E, are partly due to the FDA being slow to clear a crucial component of the device.
The Mentor, Ohio-based company’s product is a liquid chemical sterilization system for heat-sensitive medical instruments. The component in question is a biological indicator designed to signal that all living organisms have been killed by the device. And although it’s not necessary to run the device, it’s a feature desired by Steris customers and its lack of availability is holding back sales. Read more
Intuitive Surgical hits new 52-week high
Shares of Intuitive Surgical Inc. (NSDQ:ISRG) hit a new 52-week high yesterday, cresting at $449.06 before falling back to close at $448.77 – up 1.9 percent on a day when the S&P 500 gained only half a percent.
ISRG shares were trading at $445.30 as of about 11:20 this morning, up 0.8 percent.
The regenerative medicine firm said it plans to lay off 30 workers, including chief medical officer Dr, Sunita Sheth and chief commercial officer Mark Stejbach. Read more
IMDS shares slipped to 0 cents yesterday in heavy trading. The stock was trading at 0.005 cents today as of about 12:30 p.m. IVOB shares hit 1 cent yesterday and KOOL shares hit 96 cents on their way to a $1 close.
Analysts’ ups and downs
- Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX): Leerink Swann lowers 2012 earnings prediction from 48 cents to 38 cents.
- Amgen (NSDQ:AMGN): downgraded at Piper from Overweight to Neutral. $65 price target. Maturing brands are facing increased competition.
- Steris (NYSE:STE): WJB Capital downgrades from “buy” to “hold.”
- Cooper Cos. (NYSE:COO): BMO downgrades from "outperform" to "market perform," sets $64 price target.