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AbbVie (ABBV) announced on Friday that it has entered into a collaboration to develop a novel antibody therapeutic to prevent and treat COVID-19, the pandemic respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The focus of collaboration with Harbour BioMed (HBM), Utrecht University (UU) and Erasmus Medical Center (EMC) is on advancing the fully human, neutralizing antibody 47D1. The antibody targets the conserved domain of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2.
Under the terms of the collaboration, AbbVie will support UU, EMC and HBM through the preclinical activities, and start preparations for later stage preclinical and clinical development work. The drugmaker will receive an option to exclusively license the antibody from the three parties for therapeutic clinical development and global commercialization.
"Treatment and prevention of COVID-19 remains a critical global need. The antibody discovered by UU, EMC and Harbour BioMed is extremely promising based on the mechanism by which it targets the virus and on its developability as a fully human protein," said AbbVie Chief Scientific Officer Tom Hudson. "We look forward to working with this outstanding team to advance this antibody towards clinical trials."
In cell culture studies the antibody blocked infection by the SARS-CoV-2 and a second coronavirus SARS-CoV, the company said. The antibody is fully human, which is designed to facilitate its development and minimize immune-related side effects.
Since March 23, AbbVie shares have jumped 46% on the back of its recent acquisition of Botox maker Allergan and solid revenues of Humira, the company’s successful immunosuppressive anti-inflammatory drug. The stock rose less than 1% to $93.85 on Friday.
RBC Capital analyst Randall Stanicky last week put out a bullish note backing up his Buy rating on the stock with a $102 price target.
"Our investment thesis on AbbVie is based on our view that [the company] will generate double-digit near-term growth on the back of price and loss catchup in 2021 and strength of core franchises," Stanicky wrote in a note to investors. “ABBV is trading at close to historical lows and we see cash-flow support for the current sector-high dividend. Both should help support [the] shares into anticipated recovery.”
Overall, Wall Street analysts have a bullish outlook on the drugmaker’s stock. In a review of 10 analysts, the stock scores 8 Buys and the rest are Holds adding up to a Strong Buy consensus. The $103.71 average price target indicates another 11% upside potential in the coming 12 months. (See Abbvie’s stock analysis on TipRanks).
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