Arcturus Spikes 24% on Positive Preclinical Data For COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate

Shares of Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings Inc. (ARCT) soared after the company reported positive immunogenicity data from the preclinical study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The stock jumped 24% to $28.01 in midday U.S. trading. Arcturus said that the early data results for its vaccine candidate, known as LUNAR-COV19 support the start of human clinical trials this summer and indicate that it has the potential to immunize millions of people.

San Diego-based Arcturus is a clinical stage company focused on ribonucleic acid (RNA) medicines and vaccines and has developed an internal messenger RNA platform. It specializes in the discovery, development and commercialization of therapeutics for rare diseases and vaccines.

The LUNAR-COV19 preclinical study was conducted by Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore.

“These preclinical studies done in partnership with Arcturus establish a strong package of data to support initiation of human clinical trials this summer,” said Professor Ooi Eng Eong, Deputy Director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme at Duke-NUS Medical School. “There is a tremendous urgency to develop an effective vaccine in this global fight against COVID-19.”

The study results showed that self-transcribing and replicating (STARR) mRNA induced higher seroconversion relative to conventional mRNA at equivalent doses. In addition, the study found that 100% of animals seroconverted by day 19 at a low dose.

“These data show that Arcturus’ STARR mRNA is superior to conventional mRNA at all equivalent doses and timepoints,” said Pad Chivukula, Chief Scientific Officer at Arcturus. “Selfreplicating mRNA significantly increases spike protein expression, yielding many-fold higher seroconversion rates. The results at the 2 µg dose suggest LUNAR-COV19 has the potential to immunize millions more people.”

All in all, Arcturus stock has a resounding Buy rating from the 5 Wall Street analysts covering the company in the past three months resulting in a Strong Buy consensus. Following Monday’s stock surge, the $23.40 average price target now indicates a potential downside of about 17% from current levels. (See Arcturus stock analysis on TipRanks).

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