Pieris Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:PIRS) is a small-cap pharma play that blasted off higher in Thursday morning trade on an interesting collaborative move. The company announced, in conjunction with Servier, an independent international pharmaceutical company, a broad collaboration in immuno-oncology (IO). Despite the impressive clinical efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors to date, a majority of patients fail to respond to approved therapies. The collaboration seeks to address this significant unmet clinical need by advancing a series of novel molecules, including multiple dual immune checkpoint blockade approaches.
According to the release, under the collaboration, Pieris and Servier will initially pursue five bispecific therapeutic programs, led by Pieris’ PRS-332 program, a potentially best-in-class PD-1-targeting bispecific checkpoint inhibitor. Pieris and Servier will jointly develop PRS-332 and split commercial rights geographically, with Pieris retaining all commercial rights in the United States and Servier having commercial rights in the rest of the world. The four additional committed programs have been defined, which may combine antibodies from the Servier portfolio with one or more Anticalin proteins based on Pieris’ proprietary platform to generate innovative immuno-oncology bispecific drug candidates. The collaboration may be expanded by up to three additional therapeutic programs. Pieris has the option, at a predefined time point, to co-develop and retain commercial rights in the United States for up to three programs beyond PRS-332, while Servier will be responsible for development and commercialization of the 4 other programs worldwide.
Pieris Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:PIRS) promulgates itself as a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company that discovers and develops Anticalin-based drugs.
The company develops Anticalin proteins that are low molecular-weight therapeutic proteins derived from lipocalins, which are naturally occurring low-molecular weight human proteins found in blood plasma and other bodily fluids.
The company primarily focuses on the development of three drug candidates, including PRS-080 designed to target hepcidin for the treatment of functional iron deficiency in anemic patients with chronic kidney disease or in end-stage renal disease patients requiring dialysis; PRS-060, a drug candidate that binds to the IL-4RA receptor alpha-chain, which is used for the treatment of asthma and other inflammatory diseases; and PRS-343, a bispecific protein for oncology diseases.
The company has collaboration agreements with Allergan, Inc.; Daiichi Sankyo Company Limited; Sanofi Group; Cadila Healthcare Limited (Zydus Cadila); Strides Arcolab Limited; and F.HoffmannLa Roche Ltd. Pieris Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.
According to company materials, “Pieris Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage biotechnology company that discovers and develops Anticalin-based drugs to target validated disease pathways in a unique and transformative way. Our pipeline includes immuno-oncology multispecifics tailored for the tumor micro-environment, an inhaled Anticalin protein to treat uncontrolled asthma and a half-life-optimized Anticalin protein to treat anemia. Proprietary to Pieris, Anticalin proteins are a novel class of protein therapeutics validated in the clinic and by partnerships with leading pharmaceutical companies. Anticalin® is a registered trademark of Pieris.”
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Investors weren’t the only ones pleased with the move this morning. Management from both parties chimed in very enthusiastically.
“Servier is a highly complementary partner for Pieris, with a very clear commitment to oncology and outstanding development capabilities,” stated Dr. Louis Matis, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer of Pieris. “The synergies of building unique bispecifics from Servier’s antibodies and Pieris’ Anticalin proteins are multifold, as the versatility of our platform allows for extensive combinatorial target opportunities with the numerous IO ‘building blocks’ our team has discovered to date.”
“This alliance will significantly enhance Servier’s portfolio in immuno-oncology, which already comprises 5 products in late preclinical or early development. Servier’s recognized expertise in drug development will efficiently complement Pieris’ innovative technology, allowing both companies to bring innovative solutions to cancer patients,” stated Jean-Pierre Abastado, PhD, Director of Oncology R&D at Servier.
“Servier has built a diversified and innovative portfolio in oncology that includes small molecules, engineered antibodies, and cell therapies for the treatment of both hematological malignancies and solid tumors. Today’s alliance with Pieris adds another dimension to our strategy of becoming a key player in oncology, providing several next-generation bispecific IO drugs to our pipeline,” added Emmanuel Canet, M.D., Ph.D., President of Servier R&D.
We’ve witnessed 33% during the past week in terms of shareholder gains in the stock, but this action is running counter to the larger trend in the name. The situation may be worth watching. PIRS has a history of dramatic rallies. Furthermore, the stock has seen an influx in interest of late, with the stock’s recent average trading volume running 160% over what the stock has registered over the longer term.
Now commanding a market cap of $81M, PIRS has a significant war chest ($36.6M) of cash on the books, which compares with virtually no total current liabilities. PIRS is pulling in trailing 12-month revenues of $5.2M. In addition, the company is seeing major top line growth, with y/y quarterly revenues growing at 89.3%. We will update the story again soon as new information comes into view. For continuing coverage on shares of $PIRS stock, as well as our other hot stock picks, sign up for our free newsletter today and get our next hot stock pick!