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OPKO Health (OPK) Gets BARDA Contract to Combat Antibody Threats

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OPKO Health, Inc.’s (OPK - Free Report) company, ModeX Therapeutics Inc., was awarded a contract from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contract aims to aid in advancing a platform and specific candidates designed to address various public health threats in viral infectious diseases.

The awarded funding will likely enable research, development and clinical evaluation of potent multispecific antibodies based on ModeX’s proprietary MSTAR technology.

The contract is expected to boost ModeX’s research and development programs related to the multispecific antibodies, thereby solidifying OPKO Health’s foothold in the niche space.

Background of the Contract

The SARS-CoV-2 program is supported by HHS’ Project NextGen, which is dedicated to advancing a pipeline of innovative vaccines and therapeutics against COVID-19. The BARDA contract includes an initial $59 million for the development, manufacturing and execution of a Phase 1 clinical trial for a next-generation MSTAR multispecific antibody with broad neutralizing activity against known variants of SARS-CoV-2. Such antibodies have the potential for both treatment and prevention of COVID-19.

Significance of the Contract

The initiative builds on a collaboration between ModeX and the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institutes of Health for the discovery and characterization of novel therapeutic antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Additional funding of up to $109 million may be available from BARDA upon achieving particular milestones to develop multispecific antibodies targeting other viral pathogens, such as influenza. As part of the research program, gene-based delivery methods for the multispecific antibodies are expected to be developed using mRNA or DNA vectors to leverage the body’s natural protein production processes.

Per management, the latest contract from BARDA is expected to advance the potential of OPKO Health’s MSTAR multispecific antibody platform as a versatile solution to major viral threats. Management also believes that BARDA’s support will likely allow ModeX to assess promising candidates in clinical trials to treat or prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and explore the utility of the platform against diverse viruses.

Industry Prospects

Per a report by Future Market Insights, the global next-generation immunotherapies market is expected to reach $112.88 billion in 2023 at a CAGR of 7.5% from 2023 to 2033. Factors like the rising pervasiveness of oncology and the increase in research and development activities are likely to drive the market.

Given the market potential, the latest association is expected to significantly strengthen OPKO Health’s business.

Notable Developments

In August, OPKO Health reported its second-quarter 2023 results. The company’s continued strength in its oncology business and the launch of CINtec PLUS Cytology, the only FDA-approved triage test in women's health in the last quarter, looked promising.

In March, ModeX entered into an exclusive worldwide license and collaboration agreement with Merck to develop MDX2201, its nanoparticle vaccine candidate for the Epstein-Barr virus.

Price Performance

Shares of the company have lost 13.7% in the past year against the industry’s 0.2% gain and the S&P 500’s 17.5% growth.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Rank & Other Key Picks

Currently, OPKO Health carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

A few other top-ranked stocks in the broader medical space are DaVita Inc. (DVA - Free Report) , McKesson Corporation (MCK - Free Report) and Integer Holdings Corporation (ITGR - Free Report) .

DaVita, carrying a Zacks Rank #2 at present, has an estimated long-term growth rate of 12.7%. DVA’s earnings surpassed estimates in three of the trailing four quarters and missed once, with an average surprise of 21.4%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

DaVita has gained 4.7% against the industry’s 5.2% decline over the past year.

McKesson, carrying a Zacks Rank of 2 at present, has an estimated long-term growth rate of 10.7%. MCK’s earnings surpassed estimates in three of the trailing four quarters and missed once, with an average of 8.1%.

McKesson has gained 28.6% compared with the industry’s 50.9% rise over the past year.

Integer Holdings, carrying a Zacks Rank of 2 at present, has an estimated long-term growth rate of 12.1%. ITGR’s earnings surpassed estimates in all the trailing four quarters, the average surprise being 8.4%.

Integer Holdings has gained 52.6% compared with the industry’s 0.2% rise over the past year.

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