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Gritstone (GRTS) to Begin Coronavirus Vaccine Study, Stock Up

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Zacks Equity Research
·3 min read
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Gritstone Oncology, Inc. GRTS announced that it is advancing development of a second generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which has the potential to provide both prolonged protection and potency against spike mutants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Shares of Gritstone soared 248.5% on Tuesday, following the announcement of the news. In fact, the stock has surged 106.4% in the past year compared with the industry’s increase of 11.7%.

price chart for GRTS
price chart for GRTS

The company is looking to begin a phase I study on the vaccine candidate, which is being supported by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases through the Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has supported the preclinical evaluation of the vaccine.

Per the press release, Gritstone uses both self-amplifying mRNA and adenoviral vectors to deliver the SARS-CoV-2 viral antigens. The company has access to validated SARS-CoV-2 epitopes that have been identified through studies on patients who are recovering from the disease. Using these epitopes along with its proprietary Gritstone EDGE and vaccine platform technologies, Gritstone is looking to develop a novel vaccine against COVID-19, containing spike (similar to first generation vaccines) but also additional viral epitopes that offer targets for T cell immunity to COVID-19.

The next-generation vaccine may have pan-SARS/coronavirus potential to protect against future coronavirus pandemics. If successfully developed, the vaccine may provide more comprehensive viral protection compared to the currently available vaccines.

We note that several companies have already come up with vaccines for fighting the COVID-19 virus.

Pfizer PFE and its partner BioNTech’s mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, BNT162b2, is approved for emergency/temporary/conditional use in more than 40 countries, including the United States and 27 EU member countries. Another mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, developed by Moderna, Inc. MRNA has been approved for emergency/temporary use in the United States and Europe.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca’s AZN adenovirus-based coronavirus vaccine candidate, AZD1222, is approved for emergency use in the United Kingdom and India.

Zacks Rank

Gritstone currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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