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Idera focuses on cancer drug tilsotolimod after merger with BioCryst fails

Analysts are maintaining a bullish outlook on Idera in the wake of its failed merger with BioCryst
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Rob Driscoll of Wedbush is keeping an Outperform rating and a US$3 price target on the stock

Idera Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:IDRA) today announced it would focus its efforts on bringing its cancer drug tilsotolimod (IMO-2125) to market following last week’s abrupt end to its merger with BioCryst.

Updates from its phase 2 Illuminate 204 study, which evaluates tilsotolimod’s ability to fight anti-PD 1 refractory melanoma in combination with ipilimumab, are expected.

The results will include topline data from the trial which is set to be unveiled by the middle of next year. A Phase 3 study of the drug as part of the ILLUMINATE-301 trial, is also underway and additional studies are likely.

“Through the body of data we’ve generated to date, as well as from our discussions with our key opinion leader advisors, it has become abundantly clear to us that tilsotolimod has the opportunity to play a more expanded role in the immuno-oncology landscape, particularly in tumor types with limited immunogenicity that have not previously responded well to check-point inhibition approaches,” said Vincent Milano, Idera’s chief executive officer, in a statement.

Read: BioCryst Pharmaceuticals and Idera call it quits on merger

Analysts are maintaining a bullish outlook on Idera in the wake of its failed merger.

Keeping an Outperform rating on the stock and a US$3 price target, Robert Driscoll of Wedbush sees Idera’s current share weakness as a “buying opportunity for patient investors.”

Driscoll cites the strong clinical data presented for tilsotolimod and its upside potential in treating additional cancers as reasons to buy into the stock.

Michael Ulz, a senior research analyst with Baird Equity Research, is just as optimistic and also maintains an Outperform rating and a slightly higher US$4 price target on the stock.

“Overall, we continue to view interim data for tilsotolimod as promising, and with multiple catalysts ahead, we maintain our Outperform rating,” he wrote in a note to investors.

Idera’s merger with BioCryst Pharmaceuticals was killed last week after shareholders in BioCryst voted to torpedo the merger. Nearly 51 million shares of BioCryst were cast against the deal of some 83.4 million shares represented, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A sizeable number of shareholders of Exton, Pennsylvania-based Idera, meanwhile, backed the merger in its special meeting, which was also held July 10.

Idera and BioCryst had agreed to a merger last January in a bid to combine forces in the battle against rare diseases and focus together on their late-stage clinical trials.

Idera shares were flat at US$1.02 in morning trade today.

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