Leerink Notes Positive Read Through for Juno Therapeutics (JUNO) from Iterim ZUMA-1 Data (KITE)

September 27, 2016 6:22 AM EDT
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Price: $28.47 +3.87%

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Leerink affirms Juno Therapeutics (Nasdaq: JUNO) at Outperform with a price target of $45 following positive interim ZUMA-1 issued by Kite Pharma (Nasdaq: KITE) on Monday night.

The firm commented: KITE announced top-line interim results from its pivotal ZUMA-1 trial of anti-CD19 CAR-T product KTE-C19 in patients with chemorefractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), in line with expected timing. The top-line data from the first 62 patients enrolled in ZUMA-1 look by-and-large consistent with previously published KITE and NCI data in terms of preliminary safety and efficacy. We think the results are incrementally positive for JUNO and the CAR-T category as investors have generally questioned the ability of CAR-T companies to reliably translate initial results from academic single-center studies to larger multi-center trials, in addition to handling with the logistics and manufacturing of these individualized immuno therapies.

While JUNO is roughly one year behind KITE in DLBCL, JCAR017 holds the promise to have a compelling safety/efficacy profile in lymphoma and ALL, with initial data in DLBCL to date looking very encouraging. JUNO’s shares currently trade at a slight discount to KITE, and we reiterate our OP rating on JUNO based on our thesis that shares will benefit from (1) general advancement and further validation of the CAR-T therapeutic category, and (2) clinical data readouts supporting JUNO's goal to develop differentiated, potential best in-class CAR-T products. The company continues to be well funded with $1.1Bn in cash and equivalents, which mgmt. believes will fund the company into the next decade.

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