Shares of Bluebird Bio (BLUE - Free Report) , a major player in the emerging gene therapy and CAR-T research markets, slumped more than 6% in morning trading Monday after receiving a key analyst downgrade.
In a note to clients, Morgan Stanley downgraded the biotech firm from “Equal weight” to “Underweight” and reiterated its price target of $105.00 per share. That call would represent a 23.5% drop from Friday’s close.
Morgan Stanley’s Matt Harrison said that he expects shares to underperform, citing headwinds in Bluebird’s sickle cell business. Still, the analyst noted that Bluebird’s BCMA-targeting CAR-T candidate does provide some valuation support.
As most biotech investors will know by now, CAR-T therapy is an emerging method for treating cancer that includes making genetic changes to a patient’s immune T-cells and reinjecting them into the body to attack cancer cells.
Bluebird currently has several active clinical and pre-clinical programs under its CAR-T umbrella. The company’s lead CAR-T program, bb2121, is a collaboration with biotech giant Celgene (CELG - Free Report) and has produced encouraging data thus far in its Phase 1 study.
It’s been a busy year for the CAR-T industry, as several major milestones have been reached. In August, Novartis (NVS - Free Report) received approval for its innovative new lymphoblastic leukemia treatment, making it the first approved CAR-T therapy in the world.
And earlier that same week, biotech behemoth Gilead Sciences (GILD - Free Report) announced that it was acquiring Kite Pharma , another competitor in the CAR-T market. Gilead will pay a staggering $11.9 billion for Kite, which is expected to receive approval for its own CAR-T therapy in November.
For more on the current state of the CAR-T market, check out our Friday Finish Line team’s exclusive interview with Brad Loncar, the creator of the Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy Index:
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