Roche’s (RHHBY) Sparks Set to Develop Gene Therapy for HD


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Roche (RHHBY Quick QuoteRHHBY ) announced that one of its member companies, Sparks Therapeutics, has entered into a research collaboration agreement with NeuExcell Therapeutics to co-develop a novel gene therapy for Huntington’s Disease (“HD”), a brain disorder.

Please note that while the therapy for HD will be developed using NeuExcell’s proprietary neuro-regenerative gene therapy platform, Sparks will further advance the research using its proprietary adeno-associated virus vector platform.

Roche’s stock has rallied 13.5% so far this year in comparison with the industry’s 15.6% rally.

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Per the agreement terms, NeuExcell will be eligible to receive potential milestone payments upto $190 million along with product royalties. Sparks has the option to license the worldwide rights to the therapy.


HD is a genetic brain disorder that impacts the abilities of movement, behavior and cognition. The complications associated with HD are usually fatal. Currently, there is no cure for HD.

Per the companies, since neurons cannot regenerate themselves or be replaced, the existing treatments for brain disorder focus on slowing the disease progression. NeuExcell’s proprietary platform seeks to reprogram endogenous glial cells to regenerate new neurons at the site of the injury.

We inform members that Roche has also licensed tominersen, another candidate for HD indication, from Ionis Pharmaceuticals (IONS Quick QuoteIONS ) . In March 2021, Roche discontinued the phase III study evaluating tominersen, in manifest HD based on results of a pre-planned review of data from the phase III GENERATION HD1 study, conducted by Independent Data Monitoring Committee. The candidate is currently being evaluated in two different clinical studies.


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Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Roche currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A couple of better-ranked stocks in the biotech sector include Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN Quick QuoteREGN ) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX Quick QuoteVRTX ) , each sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Regeneron’s earnings per share estimates for 2021 have increased from $49.96 to $54.15 in the past 30 days. The same for 2022 has risen from $40.91 to $44.11 over the same period. The stock has rallied 40.7% in the year so far.

Vertex’s earnings per share estimates for 2021 have increased from $12.28 to $12.37 in the past 30 days. The same for 2022 has risen from $13.02 to $13.13 over the same period.

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