bluebird bio Inc (NASDAQ:BLUE) just announced Phase 1 results of bb2121, the BCMA CAR-T therapy, in patients with relapsed /refractory multiple myeloma that Merrill Lynch analyst Ying Huang believes reveal promising efficacy for the pipeline drug. On the heels of the favorable Phase 1 trial results of bb2121, the analyst is encouraged, but remains sidelined for now, reiterating a Neutral rating on shares of BLUE while lifting the price target to $68, which represents a close to 4% downside from current levels.

Of the nine patients eligible for efficacy evaluation, considering 11 patients were enrolled with a median of six previous therapies as of November 18th, 78% of objective response rate (ORR) was seen. Meanwhile, when assessing the 11 patients who are eligible for safety evaluation, another positive turnout is that no dose-limiting toxicities, Grade 3/4 cytokine release syndrome (CRS) or neurotoxicity were observed.

These results are certainly reassuring. However, Huang notes, “While we are encouraged by these results, we note that the duration of follow-up is relatively short and we would be interested in the durability of responses on the conference call” today.

Though cautious, the analyst is not dismissing the positive comparisons, explaining, “We believe the top-line results of bb2121 compare favorably with that of NCI trial of BCMA CAR-T presented at ASH (American Society of Hematology) last year, despite the difference in the co-stimulatory domains (4-1BB in bb2121 vs. CD28 in the NCI program).”

Moving forward, “Clinical updates of LentiGlobin in sickle cell disease (SCD) and ╬▓-thalassemia with the old manufacturing process will be presented at ASH. Based on the abstracts published earlier, the data in SCD are expected to be underwhelming. While initial data for bb2121 looks encouraging, we will watch for progress of competing BCMA programs,” Huang surmises.

According to TipRanks, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, five-star analyst Ying Huang is ranked #124 out of 4,239 analysts. Huang has a 73% success rate and realizes 17.7% in his annual returns. However, when recommending BLUE, Huang forfeits 29% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics demonstrate BLUE as a Buy. Based on 15 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 12 rate a Buy on BLUE, 2 maintain a Hold, while 1 issues a Sell. The 12-month average price target stands at $91.50, marking a 32% upside from where the shares last closed.

 

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