One of the worst scourges of our time, experts estimated that nearly two million new cancer cases were diagnosed last year. However, the advent of advanced therapeutics that the coronavirus pandemic engendered bodes well for biotechnology firms like Aprea Therapeutics (NASDAQ:APRE), which on Friday received positive coverage from Wedbush analyst Robert Driscoll. In response, APRE stock is up over 14% in late morning trading.
Initiating coverage of Aprea with an “outperform” rating, Driscoll also assigned a price target of $3. Based on the closing price of 80 cents for the July 7 session, this forecast would imply a 275% increase. Speculators will likely note that, at the time-of-writing, APRE stock’s price is just above 90 cents. Thus APRE stock is trending just above its 50-day moving average, a common barometer of nearer-term market strength.
Among the oncology firms pioneering advanced therapeutics to address cancer, Aprea specializes in modulating DNA-damage response (or DDR). This term refers to cell-based mechanisms that detect DNA lesions, signal their presence and promote their repair, thus presenting a compelling scientific backdrop for APRE stock.
Currently, Aprea has two main therapeutics in its pipeline, ATRN-119 and ATRN-W1051, which are both are protein inhibitors.
Powerful Scientific Catalysts Undergird APRE Stock
According to Aprea’s website, cancer is a genetic disease stemming from changes in DNA, particularly mutations caused by DNA damage. Interestingly, in 1979, scientists discovered a tumor suppressor protein called p53, which many experts in the field of oncology refer to as the “guardian of the genome.”
Essentially tasked with detecting and repairing DNA damage, the p53 protein also proactively destroys damaged cells that are too far gone in a process called apoptosis. While a seemingly brutal function, apoptosis is vital for the elimination of cancer cells and the prevention of tumor formation.
Unfortunately, cancer cells can also target and destabilize p53 proteins. Per Aprea’s website, p53 is the most commonly mutated protein in human cancers. In theory, by targeting mutated p53s and restoring them to full, normal functionality, biotech firms can empower the body to organically fight cancerous invasions. That’s the promise of Aprea and presumably the core reason why Driscoll is so bullish on APRE stock.
Why It Matters
Beyond the cancer-fighting implications, Aprea could help modernize contemporary cancer regimens. Currently, health experts deploy a rather brute-force approach with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, according to data published in Frontiers, “tumor cells always develop ways to evolve radio- and chemo-resistance capacity to survive these therapies, and mutation in the p53 gene is one of the crucial attempts.”
In other words, that which causes cancer is used to address cancer. Should Aprea be successful, its therapies would target cancerous cells specifically while leaving healthy cells alone. Under this scenario, a 275% target for APRE stock might be conservative.
Nevertheless, it’s vitally important to realize that the advanced biotech sector is extremely volatile. These aspirational companies live and die by clinical progress, where results can be cruelly capricious. Thus, significant caution is required for anyone thinking about engaging APRE stock.
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On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.