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3 Small Biotech Stocks in Focus on World Arthritis Day

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Every year World Arthritis Day is observed on Oct 12 to raise awareness on the disease’s far-reaching impact on patients across the globe. On this day, several arthritis-related groups including the Arthritis Foundation and European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (“EULAR”) spread messages on how to prevent arthritis and adopt healthy living.

Although arthritis is not life threatening, it severely impacts the quality of life and participation in society of people suffering from the disease. The disease impacts a person’s self-esteem and also increases the burden on the state given their inability to work.

Arthritis causes pain, swelling and stiffness in joints. There are several factors that may lead to arthritis including normal wear and tear in the body and inheritance. It is estimated that more than 54 million or approximately 23% of the U.S. adult population suffers from this ailment. Among them, 24 million adult patients face some type of limitations in their day-to-day life activities. Moreover, about a quarter of the adults suffering from arthritis suffer from severe joint pain. Arthritis commonly affects people who are already suffering from chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, which may lead to failure of proper management of the diseases.

We note that osteoarthritis (“OA”) is the most common form of arthritis, which occurs mainly due to normal wear and tear in the body and the risk increases with age. The other types of arthritis also known as inflammatory arthritis include gout, rheumatoid arthritis (“RA”), and lupus. Inflammatory arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. When a person is diagnosed with arthritis before the age of 16, the condition is known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Drugs/Therapies Currently Approved

With several different types of arthritis, the treatment options also vary for each type. Currently, there is no cure for the disease and the treatment options either manage the symptoms or slow down the disease progression. It is believed that earlier a treatment is started, the better it is for the patients to help them manage the disease efficiently. However, arthritis is majorly diagnosed at a later stage that makes management of the disease difficult.

The treatment options available for OA include primarily painkillers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Surgery or joint replacements are available options for severe OA patients who do not get any relief with other treatment options. Although OA affects nearly 60% of the U.S. adult population suffering from arthritis, there have been no major developments in the treatment of this debilitating disease. However, inflammatory arthritis has several treatment options with different mechanisms, which help to manage disease progression. Some popular drugs available to treat rheumatoid arthritis include Abbvie’s (ABBV - Free Report) Humira, Amgen’s (AMGN - Free Report) Enbrel and J&J’s (JNJ - Free Report) Remicade. There are several types of therapies available to treat lupus as well. Pfizer’s Xeljanz and Abbvie’s Rinvoq are two of the several drugs available for treating juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Several other big pharma companies market drugs targeting arthritis indications, making it a highly competitive field. However, with a rise in the aging population, the demand for arthritis drugs is likely to increase going forward.

Stocks in Focus

Here we present three small biotech/drug stocks with promising and innovative pipeline candidates targeting a type of arthritis. Successful development of these candidates will drive the prospects of the companies going forward.

Bioventus (BVS - Free Report)

It is one of the leading companies in the osteoarthritis segment with a market-leading portfolio of hyaluronic acid-based therapies used to treat knee pain due to OA. Currently, the company is evaluating a placental tissue particulate candidate, PTP-001, as a potential treatment for OA of the knee in a phase I study. With its significant presence in the OA segment, the company is likely to gain significantly from robust growth of the market, if it can successfully develop a cure. Moreover, positive updates on the candidate will likely drive shares higher.

IMab (IMAB - Free Report)

The company is developing a pipeline candidate, plonmarlimab, as a potential treatment for RA in a phase I study. The disease-modifying anti-rheumatic candidate has the potential to be developed for treating other autoimmune and inflammatory indications. There is a significant unmet need for RA patients. The successful development of plonmarlimab is likely to boost the company’s prospects. Moreover, the company is also developing several other pipeline candidates targeting different diseases including several attractive oncology indications.

Alpine Immune Sciences (ALPN - Free Report)

The company is developing its pipeline candidate, ALPN-101, for treating patients with systemic lupus erythematosus in a phase II study. The company is developing the candidate in collaboration with AbbVie. A strong partner should help the company ward off any financial hurdle. Moreover, the company has a promising checkpoint inhibitor candidate, ALPN-202 that is being developed in combination with Merck’s anti PD-1 therapy, Keytruda, for treating advanced malignancies in an early-stage study.