Biotech Early Movers: OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals Inc(NASDAQ:OGXI), Agenus Inc(NASDAQ:AGEN), Athersys, Inc.(NASDAQ:ATHX)

OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:OGXI) shares plunged more than 48% pre-market after the company said results from its Phase 3 SYNERGY trial to add custirsen to standard first-line treatment of docetaxel/prednisone in men with metastatic prostate cancer failed to meet primary endpoints.

The stock which was halted from trading ahead of the news, recently changed hands at $5.00, off an earlier low of $4.25. The shares haven’t been at this level in regular trading since 2009.

“The results of SYNERGY are unexpected, particularly given the wealth of scientific evidence supporting the targeting of clusterin to combat treatment resistance in first-line prostate cancer,” said Scott Cormack, President and CEO of OncoGenex. “A thorough analysis of the data is underway to understand the potential factors that may have contributed to the results.”

Agenus Inc (NASDAQ:AGEN) shares rose over 11% in recent pre-market trade after saying it has struck a collaboration and license deal with Merck (MRK) worth $100 million in potential payments.

AGEN is trading near the lower end of the 52-week range between $2.27 and $5.40. MRK was higher 0.7% at $57.65 recently, near the higher end of the 52-week range between $44.60 and $58.32. The collaboration is for the discovery and development of therapeutic antibodies to immune checkpoints for the treatment of cancer

Under the terms, Agenus will discover and optimize fully human antibodies against two undisclosed Merck checkpoint targets using the 4-Antibody Retrocyte Display platform. Merck will meanwhile responsible for clinical development and commercialization of candidates generated under the collaboration.

Agenus said the $100 million in potential payments are associated with the completion of certain clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones for two candidates from Merck. In addition, Agenus is eligible to receive royalty payments on worldwide product sales.

Analysts have a consensus price target of $7.33 on Agenus Inc(NASDAQ:AGEN) which indicates a 186% upside. The consensus rating of the stock is a Buy with a score of 3.00. There are currently 4 Buy ratings on the stock.

A recent analyst action consisted of Zacks upgrading the stock from Neutral to Outperform with a price target of $3.00.

Trading has resumed on Athersys, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATHX) following a halt based on interim results from the Phase 2 clinical study of the administration of MultiStem cell therapy in refractory ulcerative colitis (UC) patients. Results of the Pfizer study failed to show meaningful benefit, following a single administration, in patients suffering from chronic, moderate-to-severe UC who have failed other therapies.

Shares of ATHX are down $1.43, or 52%, at $1.30 in pre-market trading with a 52-week range of $1.47 -$4.33.

Analysts have a consensus price target of $6.70 on Athersys, Inc.(NASDAQ:ATHX) which indicates a 145% upside. The consensus rating of the stock is a Hold with a score of 2.00. There are currently 1 Buy rating and 1 Sell rating on the stock.

A recent analyst action consisted of Zacks downgrading the stock from Neutral to Underperform.

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