iBio, Inc. ($IBIO) is once again receiving a lot of attention at the beginning of the week. The outcome, a remarkable increase earlier today of the share with more than 40%. Both the sentiment and message volume are also showing green figures today, resulting in the share being widely discussed on Twitter and traded on other platforms such as Stocktwits and Robinhood. Read here the reason why iBio jumps today and why caution is advised at the same time.
The press conference of Donald Trump
On Sunday, the president of the United States – Donald Trump – gave a press conference discussing pharmaceutical developments for a COVID-19 vaccine. Trump announced that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for convalescent plasma therapy. This is intended for COVID-19 hospitalized patients where doctors consider it necessary to administer convalescent plasma. This form of plasma increases the availability of the scarce and valuable antibodies that patients with the virus need to fight against the complications that arise in the body.
Convalescent plasma therapy is a hot topic
iBio is one of the top players in the pharmaceutical sector committed to convalescent plasma therapy. As a result, the stock got off to a good start on Monday morning. Now it is hoped that the statement “haste makes waste” does not apply in this case. Why iBio is receiving so much positive attention is because it has been one of the forerunners in research into plant vaccines for months since the pandemic outbreak. The current platform of iBio is known to be able to produce human plasma proteins. What sets iBio apart from the competition is that the contract development unit and production unit use its own FastPharming technology platform. It shortens timelines to the clinic and can move a program from gene sequence to protein production in as little as three weeks. It’s also highly-efficient, knows consistent therapeutics and mammalian viruses can’t grow in plants, so iBio’s plant-based production platform minimizes contamination risks. As a result of this platform, iBio produces laboratory-derived enzymes, vaccine antigens, blood factors and cytokines.
That the FDA has confidence in the use of convalescent plasma is a great motivation. This comes after iBio released preclinical data on the IBIO-201 COVID-19 program earlier this month. Among other things, it was reported that 10 distinct preclinical study arms had been concluded. Early functional tests with mouse antisera from IBIO-201 immunized mice concluded that antibodies were present by this method. The antibodies interfere with the binding of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein sequences to human ACE2 in ex vivo assays. iBio is enthusiastic about the development and has announced that it will conduct additional tests. All additional tests for IBIO-201 and IBIO-200 are in collaboration with the laboratory of Texas A&M University System.
The competition experiences a hangover
Several competing pharmaceutical companies are getting off to an embarrassing start this week due to Trump’s conference. Heat Biologics ($HTBX) was down more than 10% today, as it had released preclinical data so far that held great potential. Heat Biologics is researching a heat shock protein-based COVID-19 vaccine. However, it still has to wait until the first quarter of 2021 with the tests. With that, causing it to fall further behind with the competition. Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. ($INO) decreased by 15%, while they want to start another phase 2/3 trial for INO-4800 this year. Novavax Inc. ($NVAX), a recognized name in the race for the COVID-19 vaccine – is down over 13% and has only completed a phase 1 study for their NVX – CoV2373. Finally, AstraZeneca PLC ($AZN) is seen as a direct competitor as the potential vaccine from the British-Swedish multinational – in collaboration with the University of Oxford – also works with convalescent plasma and reported a strong immune response from their vaccine in April 2020. However, the increase in the share of 2% was far behind compared to the iBio share with an increase of 40% this morning. This afternoon both companies gain momentum, with iBio receiving more attention on social media, resulting in a significantly higher increase.
Let’s not celebrate too early
This recent news seems to be paying off immediately. Still, a wait-and-see attitude is recommended with the stock. Especially because recent reports have shown that various activities have taken place in the field of insider trading at iBio. As an example, Eastern Capital LTD is mentioned which sold 15,864,436 shares at the price of $2.92 on August 11.
In addition, the FDA internal reviewer hinted that placebo-controlled, randomized trials are needed to support the effectiveness of restorative plasma therapy in COVID-19 patients. These words indicate that the EUA issued by the FDA does not have a very strong foundation yet, because restorative plasma therapy is still depending on several essential factors. It most likely won’t reach a peak anywhere near the $7.45 of earlier this year.
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