Analysts Weigh In on Two Healthcare Stocks: Arrowhead Research Corp (ARWR), ZIOPHARM Oncology Inc. (ZIOP)

Two clinical stage biopharmaceutical companies, Arrowhead Research Corp (NASDAQ:ARWR) and ZIOPHARM Oncology Inc. (NASDAQ:ZIOP), both provided a data update on pipeline drugs. Positive data releases are instrumental for clinical stage biotech companies as they aim to achieve FDA approval for pipeline drugs. Lets take a look and see what the analysts have to say about ARWR and ZIOP.

Arrowhead Research Corp

Earlier this week, Arrowhead, a clinical stage biotech company, presented positive new data for ARC-520 in three Phase IIb studies. ARC-520 is a pipeline drug to treat chronic Hepatitis B, or HBV, which infects approximately 350-400 million people worldwide. The new data highlighted results from chimpanzee testing in which seven of the nine chimpanzees with HBV achieved signs of immune reactivation. In light of this news, Grant Zeng of Zack’s Small Cap Research maintained a Buy rating on the company with a $15 price target.

Zeng is “impressed by the data,” noting that immune reactivation is “a necessary step for achieving a functional cure of chronic HBV.” He explains, “The higher response rate is a big deal. We believe the elevations in T-cell responsive serum cytokines observed in this study represent a strong proof of principle that ARC-520 can begin the process of immune reconstitution that can lead to functional cure.” The analyst states that Arrowhead will be able to begin pivotal Phase II testing of ARC-520 in late 2016. The analyst also points to ARC-521, another pipeline drug to treat HBV that will work as a complement to ARC-520.

Overall, the analyst believes Arrowhead’s “acquisition of Novartis RNAi development portfolio significantly expands and complements the company s current RNAi assets and will provide the opportunity to rapidly expand its clinical pipeline in the coming years.” Furthermore, Zeng believes the company’s strong balance sheet can sustain operations through 2016.

According to TipRanks, one other analyst has rated Arrowhead Research in the last three months with a Buy rating and a $20 price target.

ZIOPHARM Oncology Inc.

Keith Markey of Griffin Securities affirmed his Buy rating on Ziopharm with a $21 price target after the company provided updates at recent conferences. First, Ziopharm presented positive news on its CD19CAR+ T cell therapy for hematological malignancies, which achieved “significantly extended progression-free survival and overall survival” in patients with lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Second, the company presented data on IL-12, another pipeline cancer treatment. Markey explains the positive data, noting it “shows that the oral activator ligand controlling interleukin-12 production was able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier.” Overall, the pipeline drug proved to be functional and the analyst is “impressed with the advances made” by the company.

According to TipRanks, one is analyst is currently bullish on the biotech company while the other remains neutral.


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