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Micro-cap biotech? Check. Up by over 40% in one trading session? Check. Possible COVID-19 treatment? Check. All the ingredients for a familiar narrative in these coronavirus driven times are present. We’re talking about Pluristem Therapeutics (PSTI), a small Israeli biotech with promising preliminary data regarding a possible COVID-19 treatment.
Last week, Pluristem released initial results from its compassionate use program for the treatment of patients with acute respiratory failure and inflammatory complications resulting from COVID-19. Specifically, all seven ICU patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) treated so far with Pluristem’s PLX cell therapy have survived, with 6 out of 7 having completed the seven-day follow-up (one is still within the period). 4 out of the 6 (66%) patients displayed improvement in respiratory parameters, and 3 of the 6 (50%) patients are in late stages of weaning from ventilators.
Next up, the company will apply to commence a multinational clinical study to further explore the potential use of PLX cells in the treatment of patients suffering from complications linked to COVID-19. PLX cells are allogeneic mesenchymal-like cells with immunomodulatory properties and can possibly suppress or reverse the risky over-activation of the immune system.
H.C. Wainwright’s Swayampakula Ramakanth is “very encouraged” by the results and believes “the use of PLX cells for the treatment of COVID-19 could become a significant upside for the company.”
The analyst added, “In our view, with the ongoing pandemic affecting nearly every country and stressing healthcare systems around the world, new, effective treatments are urgently needed. Therefore, we believe that both the FDA and the EMA may expedite the approval for clinical studies and simply the regulatory paths going forward. With regulatory expediency and patients only needing a 28-day follow-up, we believe the company could complete the initial studies and report results in 2H20.”
Ramakanth reiterated a Buy on Pluristem shares along with a $15.50 price target. The implication for investors? Upside of an impressive 83%. (To watch Ramakanth’s track record, click here)
Only one other analyst has published a review on the small biotech’s prospects, also recommending the stock a Buy. Therefore, Pluristem has a Moderate Buy consensus rating. The average price target is $13.75 and set to provide investors with returns of 63%, should the target be met over the coming months. (See Pluristem stock analysis on TipRanks)
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