Gilead Sciences, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GILD) $11.8 billion deal to buy cancer-immunotherapy company, Kite Pharma Inc (NASDAQ:KITE), has further validated the CAR-T technology many others are developing, including Juno Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:JUNO).
As such, Wedbush analyst David Nierengarten upgraded JUNO shares from Neutral to Outperform, while boosting the price target to $42 (from $24).
Nierengarten commented, “With BLA filing guided to mid-2018, we believe JCAR017 approval could arrive before year end 2018, putting it a little over a year behind axi-cel (PDUFA Nov 29, 2017). We do not see a lasting disadvantage in being later to market, as we believe that the initial axi-cel launch will be slower than the Street expects due to investments required to increase transplant center capacity and of course as a likely new reimbursement paradigm is negotiated. However, we believe JUNO could capitalize on GILD’s/NVS’s efforts with its later arrival.”
“We see JCAR017’s profile as sufficiently differentiated in both efficacy and safety to enable for broader adoption relative to axi-cel, with cross-trial comparisons from data recently presented at ASCO showing ’017 to be more potent, capable of generating greater and more sustained responses, while carrying lower risk of serious side effects. JCAR017 incorporates a 4-1BB signaling domain and lentivirus for transfection, which are associated with slower expansion and longer cell persistence relative to the prior-gen CD28/gamma-retrovirus tech used in axicel,” the analyst continued.
According to TipRanks.com, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, 5-star analyst David Nierengarten has a yearly average return of 25.1% and a 50% success rate. Nierengarten is ranked #154 out of 4621 analysts.