Benitec Biopharma Ltd (ADR) (NASDAQ:BNTC) is a micro-cap biotech featuring a unique combination of gene silencing using RNA interference coupled with the long-term therapeutic activity of gene therapy vectors. The stock has occasionally been the flavor of the day for traders around key updates. We recently got a great example of that late last week when BNTC quickly doubled on the company’s update on its ocular therapy program.
Specifically, the company just announced that it has made significant progress with its ddRNAi technology for the development of therapeutics for the treatment of ocular diseases. “Of particular importance is the output from Benitec’s collaboration with 4D Molecular Therapeutics to identify novel viral vectors for delivery to the back of the eye using direct intravitreal injection, a commercially attractive route of administration.”
Benitec Biopharma Ltd (ADR) (NASDAQ:BNTC) bills itself as a biotechnology company that develops treatments for chronic and life-threatening human diseases based on its gene silencing therapy, DNA-directed RNA interference (ddRNAi) in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Its in-house development programs include TT-034, which is in Phase I/IIa clinical trials for the treatment of hepatitis C; BB-HB-331 for the treatment of the hepatitis B virus; and ddRNAi-based therapies, such as BB-AMD-211 and BB-AMD-233 for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as well as BB-AMD-231 for the treatment of wet and dry AMD.
The company also engages in developing a ddRNAi-based gene therapy for the treatment of oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy, an autosomal-dominant inherited, slow-progressing, and late-onset degenerative muscle disorder that occurs at the age of 40 or 50 years in patients. In addition, it licenses its ddRNAi technology to other biopharmaceutical companies for the progress of HIV/AIDS, retinitis pigmentosa, cancer immunotherapy, Huntington’s disease, and neuropathic pain programs.
The company has a strategic partnership with Nant Capital, LLC for a scientific collaboration in clinical programs; and a research collaboration agreement with Nant Capital LLC for the clinical development of BB-401, a recombinant DNA construct that produces an antisense RNA with specificity against epidermal growth factor receptor.
Benitec Biopharma Limited was founded in 1995 and is headquartered in North Sydney, Australia.
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The catalyst for the big movement in the stock appears to specifically be related to the company’s note that the output from its collaboration with 4D Molecular Therapeutics has been instrumental in the treatment’s development. That has suggested to the market that a more dramatic revelation may be on the way in the near future.
Dr David Suhy commented, “Having a commercially attractive route of administration is a significant step forward in the program. One of the major limitations of most ocular gene therapy applications is the use of a highly complex surgical technique called subretinal injection for delivery into the eye. We are developing viral vectors which can efficiently transduce cells within the retina following an office-friendly, intravitreal injection. This is the same route of administration used for the standard of care treatments for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), including Lucentis and Eylea.”
Dr. Suhy continued, “Being able to deliver drugs in therapeutically relevant concentrations is a key challenge in drug development. It has taken significant time and effort, but we believe that these outcomes demonstrate the commercial applicability of having a vector that can transduce the retina following an intravitreal injection. The AMD program is our first program in this space and we anticipate being able to build a ddRNAi franchise for other ocular indications, in particular retinal diseases, using these novel viral vectors as a key component in that platform.”
Recent action has seen 67% tacked on to share pricing for the stock in the past month. The situation may be worth watching. BNTC has a history of dramatic rallies. Furthermore, the name has witnessed a pop in interest, as transaction volume levels have recently pushed a bit less than 980% above its longer-run average levels.
Now commanding a market cap of $391.2M, BNTC has a significant war chest ($13.4M) of cash on the books, which stands against virtually no total current liabilities. BNTC is pulling in trailing 12-month revenues of $126K. In addition, the company is seeing recent top line growth, with sequential quarterly revenues growing at 71.8%. We will update the story again soon as further details emerge. For continuing coverage on shares of $BNTC stock, as well as our other hot stock picks, sign up for our free newsletter today and get our next hot stock pick!