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Shares of Athersys, Inc. (ATHX - Snapshot Report) reached a 52-week high of $3.20 during the first half of the trading session on Jan 6, 2014. The closing price of $3.05 reflects a massive increase of more than 150% in a span of one year.
This biotechnology company, with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), has a market cap of $202.4 million. The average volume of shares traded during the trading session stood at 1,415,158.

What's Driving the Price?

The share price of the company has been on an uptrend ever since Athersys announced the completion of the enrolment process of a phase II study on its MultiStem cell therapy on Dec 19, 2013. Athersys’ MultiStem therapy is being evaluated for ulcerative colitis in collaboration with Pfizer Inc. (PFE - Analyst Report). The stock price has shot up 43.9% since the announcement was made in December.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center phase II study will evaluate the use of MultiStem therapy in patients suffering from moderate-to-severe ulcerative colitis.

Athersys said that results from the phase II study will be announced in two parts with the initial results expected in the April – May timeframe. The second part of the data is expected to be available towards the end of the second quarter of 2014.

We note that Athersys is also evaluating MultiStem therapy for treating inflammatory bowel disease, ischemic stroke, damage caused by myocardial infarction and prevention of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). In Dec 2013, MultiStem therapy was granted orphan drug designation in Europe for the GvHD indication.

The candidate already has orphan drug designation in the U.S. for this indication. We are encouraged by the pipeline progress at Athersys and expect investor focus to stay on pipeline updates going forward.

Some better-ranked stocks include Lannett Company, Inc. (LCI - Snapshot Report) and Forest Laboratories Inc. (FRX - Analyst Report). Both carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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