Medical Stock Spotlight – market’s stampede into stocks that could, even remotely, benefit from the coronavirus outbreak

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Thinly traded nano cap Cleveland BioLabs Inc. (Nasdaq:CBLI) led advancing issues, skyrocketing 220% over the week to $4.23 as yet another company is caught up in the market’s stampede into stocks that could, even remotely, benefit from the coronavirus outbreak, still largely confined to China. Cleveland BioLabs neither has any coronavirus drug or vaccine in its pipeline nor an experimental one targeting the deadly disease. The company is principally focused on biodefense and cancer.

Apart from another experimental drug CBLB612, which is being evaluated for chemotherapy-induced myelosuppression, Cleveland BioLabs has an adjuvant vaccine candidate codenamed SA-701 in early-stage of development. Vaccine adjuvants are chemical substances that may be added to vaccines to boost the immune response. SA-701 is being evaluated for multiple indications namely addiction, infection and cancer. Buffalo, NY-based Cleveland BioLabs joins a host of companies that have capitalized on the coronavirus frenzy, thanks to their product candidates/techniques that could came in handy for screening and preventing or tackling the infection.

Also capitalizing on the widespread fears surrounding the Wuhan coronavirus is Aethlon Medical Inc. (Nasdaq:AEMD), up 81% to $4.34. Like Cleveland BioLabs, Aethlon is among the companies that are perceived as potentially beneficial in the fight against the deadly virus. The San Diego-based company  is focused on addressing unmet needs in health and biodefense. It has developed a device that can combat highly infectious diseases like the Ebola virus and may help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Aethlon’s Hemopurifier is a first-in-class therapeutic device that removes exosomes and life-threatening viruses from the human circulatory system and has been granted “Breakthrough Device” designation from the US Food and Drug Association. Simply put, growing concerns around the deadly coronavirus are shining a spotlight on pharmaceutical and medical device companies, creating a massive opportunity for Aethlon and its Hemopurifier, which could possibly help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The company’s stock has more than tripled since the beginning of 2020.

And Co-Diagnostics Inc. (Nasdaq:CODX) raced 73% to $3.26. The molecular diagnostics company with a unique, patented platform for the development of diagnostic tests announced the successful initial verification of its screening test designed to identify the presence of the Wuhan coronavirus and that the test “will soon be ready for validation in and subsequent distribution to any appropriate venue across the globe.”

Dwight Egan, Co-Diagnostics CEO remarked, “After a concerted effort by company scientists and laboratory technicians, I am pleased to report that our unique and rapid development process has culminated in a test with excellent characteristics. Our dedicated team will continue to work to perform additional verifications and preparations to quickly make the test components available to laboratories around the world, for validation with human samples.”

Salt Lake City, UT-based Co-Diagnostics’ technology is utilized for tests that are designed using the detection and/or analysis of nucleic acid molecules (DNA or RNA).

Finally, Acceleron Pharma Inc. (Nasdaq:XLRN) rounded out the weeks winners, soaring 74% to $90.78 after saying its investigational treatment for a rare, deadly lung disease called pulmonary arterial hypertension met the main goal in a mid-stage trial. The treatment, sotatercept, showed significant reduction in pulmonary vascular resistance versus placebo at week 24. It also showed significant improvements in patients functional capacity, which was determined by a six minute walk test.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension, or PAH, occurs when arteries in the lungs constrict, forcing the heart to work harder, often leading to heart failure. Its symptoms include shortness of breath and fatigue. The disease has no cure, but there are treatments on the market that can manage the condition. The Cambridge, MA-based company also has a rare blood disorder drug, Reblozyl, in the market.

But NeuroMetrix Inc. (Nasdaq:NURO) plummeted 36% to $3.05 on no particular company-specific news. On Dec. 31, 2019, Dr. Shai N. Gozani, CEO of the pain-treating device maker, cut his annual salary to $1 from a previous $422,200–accepting a stock option to purchase 100,000 shares instead. The 2020 executive compensation package, approved Dec. 29 by the company board’s compensation committee, also cuts salaries in return for stock options for other company leaders, according to an SEC filing.

The salary cuts come after a year in which the Waltham, MA-based company sought more profitable sales and cut marketing costs as it moved from TV to digital advertising. For the nine months ended Sept. 30, NeuroMetrix lost $2.7 million off $7.6 million in revenue, versus a profit of $2.8 million off $12.4 million in revenue for the same period a year ago. The company’s stock has been trading at around $3 per share, less than half what it was a year ago. NeuroMetrix touts its Quell transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device as a smartphone-controlled, easy-to-use version of a pain treatment technology.

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