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Axovant Sciences ‘emphasizes reboot’ with gene therapy, says Oppenheimer

Axovant expects to initiate a study of AXO-Lenti-PD in patients with advanced Parkinson's disease by the end of 2018
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The analysts maintained their Perform rating on the stock

Analysts at Oppenheimer said Axovant Sciences Ltd. (NASDAQ:AXON) emphasized its reboot with gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease.

Earlier this month, Oxford BioMedica, one of Britain’s oldest biotech companies, concluded a US$842.5m deal with Axovant Sciences to commercialize its gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease.

Called AXO-Lenti-PD, Axovant’s new project uses a harmless virus to deliver three genes key to the production of dopamine and thereby relieve the neurodegeneration that characterizes Parkinson’s disease. The company plans to start its first clinical trial this year.

“AXO-Lenti-PD is an experimental gene therapy that builds on the earlier success of ProSavin which demonstrated nominal efficacy with long-term safety in an ongoing 15-patient Ph2 study,” wrote Oppenheimer analysts Jay Olson and Silvan Tuerkcan in a note released Tuesday.

“AXO-Lenti-PD is a next-generation lentiviral vector that improves upon the efficacy of ProSavin while overcoming some of the barriers including dosing constraints imposed by the volume of administration.”

Read: Gene therapy deal to drive “pipeline transformation” for Axovant Sciences, says Oppenheimer

Axovant expects to initiate a Phase I/II dose escalation study of AXO-Lenti-PD in patients with advanced Parkinson's disease by the end of 2018.

Investment thesis

The analysts maintained their Perform rating on the stock and looked forward to additional business development, which they expected by the year-end.

“Our neutral view of Axovant Sciences is based on the failure of intepirdine in the symptomatic treatment of Alzheimer's disease and removal of valuation for dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) from our model,” wrote the analysts.

“We see Axovant Sciences shares as approximately fairly valued for nelotanserin. Meanwhile, we believe Axovant is planning to deploy cash for business development to rebuild its pipeline.”  

The analysts said clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, ended financial year 2018 with US$154mln in cash.

Axovant was up nearly 2% to US$4.18 in Wednesday morning trade. 

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