Investors of micro-cap biotech Capricor (CAPR) were probably raising a glass or two last week, as the stock skyrocketed by 253% in one session. The share price surge came following the release of promising results for a possible COVID-19 treatment.
The company’s lead candidate CAP-1002, an allogeneic cardiac stem cell therapy, demonstrated 100% success when given to 6 critically ill COVID-19 patients, all suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The patients were treated on a compassionate care basis and over the course of 1 month. Following the infusion, within one to five days, 4 of the 5 patients receiving mechanical ventilation no longer required support. The fifth has yet to be weaned off ventilation support, while the sixth is being treated with supplemental oxygen and is clinically stable.
The FDA has now authorized an expansion of the access protocol to include up to 20 patients. Capricor plans to advance with a randomized, placebo-controlled trial in moderate to severe patients, with non-equity capital providing the requisite funds.
Maxim analyst Jason McCarthy argues allogeneic cell therapies “are powerful immune modulators,” which are demonstrating “compelling data in ARDS.”
McCarthy noted, “Cell therapy (though the data is early) is emerging as a potentially important COVID-19 therapeutic. Capricor makes the third cell therapy to demonstrate high rates of survival among the sickest COVID-19 patients (those with ARDS on mechanical ventilation). ARDS is the real killer in COVID-19 and studies in NYC hospital networks have reported mortality rates as high as 88% in patients on ventilators.”
Despite the encouraging data, McCarthy warns that as the trial is small, “one can consider the data anecdotal.”
However, the positive readout is reason enough for the analyst to boost his price target for the microcap from $4 to $10, while keeping his "buy" rating intact. (To watch McCarthy’s track record, click here)
Only one other analyst has been tracking Capricor’s progress over the last 3 months. The additional Buy rating provides the biotech with a Moderate Buy consensus rating. The average price target hits $9.50 and implies potential upside of 40% over the next 12 months. (See Capricor stock analysis on TipRanks)
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