Head back to Thursday's market close and shares of drug maker Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE) were trading for $2.62, each. As of this writing, the stock is changing hands for $6.25 a share, an increase of nearly 140%.
The ascent followed the release of promising COVID-19 data. Sorrento disclosed that in an in vitro virus infection experiment, its SARS-CoV-2 antibody, STI-1499, was able to provide 100% inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection. Essentially, after four days of incubation, STI-1499 completely eradicated the virus’ presence.
Sorrento has been using its proprietary G-MAB fully human antibody library to screen billions of antibodies, and initially identified hundreds of candidates that bind the S1 subunit of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein. These were whittled down to roughly a dozen which were able toblock the coronavirus' spike proteins from attaching to ACE2, a receptor on the surface of healthy cells through which the virus enters and causes the infection.
Among these, STI-1499 stood out in its ability to completely block the virus while doing so at a very low dose.
The antibody has now emerged as the prime candidate to be used in an antibody cocktail, Covi-Shield, being developed by Sorrento in partnership with Mount Sinai, which will consist of three different antibodies for prophylactic use.
On account of the high potency it has displayed so far in the experiments, STI-1499 is also expected to be developed as a stand-alone therapy called Covi-Guard
Sorrento hopes to develop 200,000 doses per month in its San Diego cGMP antibody manufacturing facility in tandem with the pursuit of FDA approval for any STI-1499 product candidate.
H.C. Wainwright’s Ram Selvaraju notes that “in the absence of a vaccine, protection using an antibody cocktail may prove to be one of very few viable options.”
The 5-star analyst further added, “If approved, COVI-GUARD and COVI-SHIELD may be deployed as both prophylactic agents for those returning to work and as therapeutic interventions for those recently exposed to SARS-CoV-2… In our view, there is a clear unmet need for a solution like this in the context of a pandemic for which there remains no effective vaccine.”
To this end, Selvaraju reiterates a Buy rating on Sorrento shares along with a $24 price target. Investors will be pocketing gains in the shape of 280% should Selvaraju’s target be met over the coming months. (To watch Selvaraju’s track record, click here)
To find good ideas for healthcare stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.