In the shadow of QLT’s selling off its lead offering Visudyne, the recent tragedy at Neptune’s Technologies plant in Sherbrooke, and the derailing of AEterna Zentaris’ perifosine, it was actually a very good year for Canadian life sciences stocks.
Big board stocks like TearLab, Cipher Pharmaceuticals, and Patheon were breakout successes in 2012.
Byron Capital Healthcare and Life Sciences analyst Douglas Loe has a coverage universe that is probably double that of the average tech analyst, and that coverage sometimes extends to smaller stocks. In revealing his TSX Venture Exchange picks for the 2012 Cantech Letter Awards, he shows the accomplishments in biotech this year were not limited to the TSX.
Douglas Loe, Byron Capital
2012 TSXV Canadian Tech Stock of the Year
1. Acasti Pharma (TSXV:APO) – lead drug is a krill oil-derived omega-3 phospholipid ester formulation called CaPre, is currently undergoing testing in two Phase II dyslipidemia trials, both of which should generate data in 2013
2. Bioasis Technologies (TSXV:BTI) – attractive platform that used a protein called melanotransferrin, or p97 (which it brands as Transcend) to attach to CNS-active therapeutic proteins and allow them to cross the blood-brain-barrier. Multiple partnerships already in place and multiple more expected
3.Neovasc (TSXV:NVC) – medtech firm with two attractive cardiovascular technologies, one a novel stent design called REDUCER used to treat chronic refractory angina and which is undergoing testing in pivotal COSIRA trial; earlier-stage technology called Tiara is undergoing preclinical testing for treating mitral regurgitation, should advance into human testing by end of 2013.
Honorable mention to Immunovaccine (TSXV:IMV) – liposome-based vaccine antigen delivery platform DepoVax allows for high immune response without adjuvant in multiple vaccine markets. Phase II ovarian cancer trial is ongoing using survivin peptides as antigens; other partnerships are possible.
Executives of the year would match with the stocks of the year and include:
1. Harlan Waksal, Executive VP, Acasti Pharma
2. Rob Hutchison, CEO/Chairman, Bioasis
3. Alexei Marko, CEO/Director, Neovasc
Honorable mention – John Trizzino, CEO/Director, Immunovaccine