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Biotechs to Watch at the 2012 San Francisco Healthcare Confrences

Zacks Equity Research

Several biotech companies we cover at Zacks Investment Research are attending the series of healthcare conferences this week in San Francisco. These conferences include the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, OneMed Forum, and Biotech Showcase.

Companies are attending include Advaxis (OTC BB:ADXS.OB - News), Bio-Path Holdings Inc. (OTC BB:BPTH.OB - News), CytRx Corp (NasdaqCM:CYTR - News), EpiCept Corp (Other OTC:EPCT.PK - News), Galena Biopharma (NasdaqCM:GALE - News), ImmunoCellular Biotherapeutics (OTC BB:IMUC.OB - News), NeoGenomics (OTC BB:NGNM.OB - News), Northwest Biotherapeutics (OTC BB:NWBO.OB - News), andPressure BioSciences (NasdaqCM:PBIO - News).

These biotech companies are covered by Zacks Small Cap Research team. Following are the investment highlights for each company. Full research reports can be obtained from our sales team.

Advaxis Inc. (OTC BB:ADXS.OB - News)
Advaxis is a Listeria based immunotherapy company focused on the development of immunotherapeutics for cancer treatment. We are optimistic about the Company’s unique Listeria platform technology which holds advantages over its peers. The Company’s lead drug candidate ADXS11-001 is in Phase II clinical trials for the treatment of cervical cancer and cervical dysplasia. Another Phase II trial will be initiated for the treatment of head and neck cancer soon. Other pipeline candidates target breast, brain and prostate cancer. We believe Advaxis is heading in the right direction.    


Bio-Path Holdings Inc. (OTC BB:BPTH.OB - News)
Bio-Path is a development stage drug delivery biotech company.  We are optimistic about the great potential of the Company’s neutral lipid drug delivery technology and ligand-enhanced lipid tumor targeting technology, which enable systemic delivery of antisense, RNAi and siRNA drug candidates. Bio-Path’s pipeline targets the multi-billion dollar cancer market and the Company has moved its lead drug candidate liposomal-Grb-2 into a Phase I trial. The Company’s good working relationship with the MD Anderson Cancer Center and its out-license oriented strategy should build shareholder value in a rapid and cost-effective way.

CytRx Corp (NasdaqCM:CYTR - News)
CytRx is a biopharmaceutical company with a focus on oncology. The Company has three candidates in middle to late stage development targeting various cancer indications. The most advanced candidate is tamibarotene which is in a pivotal clinical trial for acute promyelocytic leukemia (NYSE:APL - News). The combined market opportunity for CytRx’s pipeline is huge. The Company’s strategy is to develop drugs with known mechanisms of action which will minimize operational risks. CytRx is well capitalized with a strong balance sheet which sets it apart from its peers. Current valuation is low based on the Company’s fundamentals. Therefore, we assign a market Outperform rating on CytRx.

EpiCept Corp (Other OTC:EPCT.PK - News)
EpiCept is a commercial stage specialty pharmaceutical company targeting large cancer and pain markets. The Company’s lead cancer candidate Ceplene has been already approved in EU and Israel for the remission maintenance of AML and a pivotal trial for Ceplene is planned in the US. The Company’s other candidates include AmiKet for peripheral neuropathy, Azixa and Crolibulin for cancers which are all in Phase II trials. We are optimistic about EpiCept’s prospect. Current valuation is low and we see a great potential for appreciation in share price as the Company continues to advance its pipeline and boosts its balance sheet.

Galena Biopharma (NasdaqCM:GALE - News)
Galena has been transformed into a late stage development biotech company through its acquisition of Apthera. The Company is focused on cancer vaccines. Lead drug candidate NeuVaxTM has demonstrated excellent efficacy data and safety profile for breast cancer patients in Phase II trials and will enter into a Phase III trial in the first half of 2012. Newly acquired cancer vaccine FBP targets gynecological cancers and is going to enter into the clinic in 1H2012. Galena has a relatively strong balance sheet. Current valuation is low based on the Company’s strong fundamentals. We have an Outperform rating on Galena.

ImmunoCellular Biotherapeutics (OTC BB:IMUC.OB - News)
IMUC is a clinical stage biotech company focused on the research and development of innovative cancer therapeutics. The Company’s lead drug candidate ICT-107 is next generation cancer vaccine targeting cancer stem cells to prevent recurrence. ICT-107 has demonstrated best clinical data for glioblastoma so far and is under a Phase II trial. ICT-107 holds a high promise for glioblastoma and has potential for other cancers. IMUC also has a pipeline based on its off-the-shelf peptide vaccine technology and monoclonal antibody technology which ensures sustainable growth of the Company. IMUC is heading in the right direction and poised to deliver shareholder value.

NeoGenomics (OTC BB:NGNM.OB - News)
NeoGenomics is a pure play cancer genetics testing lab with competitive advantages. The Company’s industry leading turn-around times, unique tech-only business model, state of the art lab information system, and extensive client education programs are key factors to attract clients.
Total revenue will grow at 25.6% CAGR from 2010 to 2015. Meanwhile, increased operating leverage will ultimately contribute to the bottom line. The Company will turn profitable in 4Q2011 and EPS will grow to $0.17 per share in 2015.
We rate NGNM shares Outperform based on the Company’s strong fundamentals.

Northwest Biotherapeutics (OTC BB:NWBO.OB - News)
Northwest Biotherapeutics is a late clinical stage biotech company engaged in the development of cell based cancer immunotherapeutics.  We are optimistic with the Company’s dendritic cell-based platform technology and its lead program DCVax-L for glioblastoma multiform, which is in a Phase II clinical trial designed and powered as a pivotal trial. Another late stage program is DCVax-Prostate. The Company is looking for a partner to initiate Phase III trials of this program due to scale of resources required for the Phase III trials.
Both DCVax-L and DCVax-Prostate have the potential to become blockbusters if approved in our view. NWBO has established an unusually deep pipeline. Its DCVax-Direct technology can target almost every solid tumor. Current targets include liver, head & neck, ovarian and pancreatic cancers.
Progress has been made in the past few months in terms of clinical trials, business development and balance sheet strengthening. Current valuation is attractive and upside potential is high at current price level.

Pressure BioSciences (NasdaqCM:PBIO - News)
Pressure BioSciences (NasdaqCM:PBIO - News) is a research products and services provider for the life science industry. We are impressed and optimistic about the Company’s novel, enabling platform technology: pressure cycling technology (:PCT), which has competitive advantages over existing technologies in the sample preparation market.  
PBIO operates in the multi-billion dollar but underserved research products and services market with a current focus on sample preparation for life science research. The research products and services market is a rapidly growing market with a large and immediate need for better technology, which we expect will create a huge opportunity for PBI to grow its business in the coming years.

Based upon the PCT platform, PBIO has established a broad product portfolio for the sample preparation market. The instruments and consumables, a “razor and blade” model, that form its PCT Sample Preparation System (PCT SPS) are now increasingly being recognized by many research labs as a novel and paradigm shifting sample preparation method due to PBI’s focused marketing efforts. We believe uptake of the PCT SPS will accelerate in the coming years.

PCT is increasingly gaining recognition by research labs and user adoption will accelerate in the coming years due to the focused marketing efforts by the Company.
Current price is undervalued compared to its peers in our view. We encourage investors to accumulate PBI’s shares at the current level.

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