Can Aridis Pharmaceuticals’ APEX Platform Be Used to Target Coronavirus? Analyst Weighs In

If nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred vast cooperation in the healthcare space. Having said that, it remains unclear as to what approach will be the most effective in stopping the deadly virus from continuing its romp around the world.

Antiviral treatments such as remdesivir have garnered substantial attention, and while they are certainly promising with respect to their potential to slow the virus down, they won’t necessarily be able to stop COVID-19’s spread completely. As was the case with other viral outbreaks like H1N1 in 2009 and Ebola in 2014, some healthcare officials argue that immune-based therapies like monoclonal antibody (mAb) cocktails and vaccines are our best bet.

Enter Aridis Pharmaceuticals (ARDS), which is already up 37% year-to-date. Maxim analyst Jason McCarthy points out that the company’s APEX platform could be a game changer in the fight against COVID-19, as it’s still not clear what the protective target or antigen is on SARS-CoV-2 even though several vaccine candidates are targeting the spike protein. It should also be noted that age, underlying conditions and genetic predisposition can impact disease contraction, severity, duration and outcome, but healthcare officials aren’t exactly sure how.

Expounding on this, McCarthy commented, “…there must be protective antibodies that they have generated, which is why the IgG/IgM antibody tests that have dominated headlines in the media are going to be critically important. Also important is being able to interrogate the antibody producing B cells to determine which may be producing protective antibodies, what their target(s) may be, and how to use that to generate an effective immune therapy.”

However, finding the specific antibodies that can aid in the protection against COVID-19 is no easy task. “This is what APEX could bring to the table; an ability to screen and find the B cells from patients that produce protective antibodies, and do it rapidly,” McCarthy said. He added, “Other companies such as Regeneron (REGN – NR) are approaching antibody cocktails as a treatment for COVID, and with the shortened timelines, high throughput, and high yields, APEX could be an ideal platform for discovery and development of an antibody cocktail.”

On top of this, ARDS has two other candidates progressing through clinical testing, one for cystic fibrosis and the other for the treatment of hospital acquired pneumonia and ventilator acquired pneumonia (HAP/VAP). Based on all of this, it should come as no surprise that McCarthy has high hopes for this healthcare name. Along with his Buy rating, the analyst maintained a $17 price target, implying 172% upside potential. (To watch McCarthy’s track record, click here)

All in all, the rest of the Street is on the same page. With 100% Street support, the message is clear: ARDS is a Strong Buy. Not to mention the $21.33 average price target brings the upside potential to 249%. (See Aridis price targets and analyst ratings on TipRanks)

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