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BioLineRx (BLRX) recently announced that French regulatory authorities have approved the initiation of a phase I/II trial for its oral hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection candidate, BL-8020.

The open-label phase I/II trial will be conducted across two sites in France and will enroll patients infected with HCV who have either failed or relapsed after undergoing treatment with the current standard-of-care. The trial will evaluate the efficacy, safety and tolerability of the candidate in HCV-infected patients. BioLineRx expects to report interim results from the study by year-end.

We believe HCV infection represents a huge commercial opportunity for BioLineRx. As per data from a 2011 report from Decision Resources, approximately 180 million people are suffering from chronic HCV infection globally. The global HCV infection market is expected to be worth $20 billion by 2020 as opposed to $6 billion in 2011.

Apart from BL-8020, other interesting candidates in BioLineRx’s pipeline include BL-1020 for schizophrenia (phase II/III), BL-1040 for preventing pathological cardiac remodeling following a myocardial infarction (pivotal CE-Mark registration trial), and BL-5010 for non-surgical removal of skin lesions (phase I/II study complete). We are impressed with the company’s efforts to develop its pipeline.

BioLineRx, a biopharmaceutical company, carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Biopharma companies that currently look more attractive include Cytokinetics, Inc. (CYTK - Snapshot Report) and Array BioPharma Inc. (ARRY - Snapshot Report). While Cytokinetics is a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stock, Array BioPharma carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Another pharma stock that looks attractive is Osiris Therapeutics, Inc. (OSIR - Analyst Report). Osiris is also a Zacks Rank #1 stock.

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