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BioLineRx Stock Up on Stake Increase in Lead Cancer Program

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BioLineRx Ltd. (BLRX - Free Report) announced that it has inked a deal with privately held Biokine Therapeutics for increasing its stake in its lead oncology program, BL-8040. The candidate, a CXCR4 antagonist, is currently being developed in late-stage studies for treating different types of solid tumors and hematological indications, such as stem cell mobilization (SCM), acute myeloid leukemia and immunotherapy for multiple types of solid tumors.

Following this latest agreement, BioLineRX’s economic interest in its lead oncology platform, BL-8040, is likely to increase to 80%, 20% more than the previous level of 60%. In 2012, BioLineRX in-licensed exclusive global rights to BL-8040. The transaction is expected to be completed within next 10 days.

Shares of BioLineRX were up more than 17% following this news. In fact, the stock has rallied 22.9% so far this year compared with the industry’s increase of 2.2%.

 

Per the contract, BioLineRX will make an upfront cash payment of $10 million to Biokine together with $5 million in restricted shares. Biokine is eligible to receive another $5 million as future milestones.

BL-8040 program is rapidly advancing through late-stage clinical development for various types of cancer indications. Notably, by the end of this quarter, BioLineRX plans to report top-line data from the phase IIa study, evaluating BL-8040 in combination with Merck’s (MRK - Free Report) PD-1 inhibitor Keytruda for metastatic pancreatic cancer.

We remind investors that back in September 2016, BioLineRx announced the beginning of the first phase IIa COMBAT study for evaluating the efficacy of BL-8040 in combination with Keytruda. Subsequently, in January 2017, BioLineRx announced the onset of the second phase IIa study on the given combination.

Moreover, last October, the company along with partner Genentech, a member of Roche Holding AG (RHHBY - Free Report) , initiated a phase Ib/II study to evaluate BL-8040 in combination with Roche’s Tecentriq for treating patients with gastric cancer.

Zacks Rank & Other Stocks to Consider

BioLineRx currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Another top-ranked stock in the same sector is United Therapeutics Corp. (UTHR - Free Report) , which sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

United Therapeutics’ earnings estimates have moved 5.7% north for 2018 and 2.2% for 2019 over the past 60 days. The stock has gained 10.1% in the past three months.

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