Humanigen (NASDAQ:HGEN) recently announced impressive results from a late-stage study of its COVID-19 antibody therapy lenzilumab. The biotech stock skyrocketed on the news but subsequently gave up some of its gains.In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on March 31, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli talk about whether or not Humanigen stock could soar even higher going forward.
Keith Speights: Let's move on to another COVID-19 story. Earlier this week, Humanigen, the ticker there is HGEN. The company announced what appeared to be really great news from a late-stage study of its COVID-19 antibody therapy. The company said that lenzilumab, which was the antibody therapy, improved the relative likelihood of survival without need for invasive mechanical ventilation by 54% and that was the primary endpoint of the study.
This stock skyrocketed on the news initially more than doubled and intraday trading before giving up a lot of those gains, but still up a lot. Do you think Humanigen stock can soar even higher or do you think it's likely that the stock might retreat some from here after this what seems to be really good news?
Brian Orelli: Unlike the other antibody therapies that attack the virus directly, lenzilumab targets GM-CSF, which is granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, and basically that molecule stimulates the immune system by getting an antibody to it your dampening the immune system and that's because in sicker COVID-19 patients, a lot of them are dying not from the virus directly, but from the new system overreacting to the virus and then attacking the patient's own cells or tissues.
So that's what this drug is doing is been dampening the immune system and then allowing the immune system to catch up and get rid of the virus. Their 54% improvement sounds impressive but when we're talking about going from 22.1% for placebo down to 15.6% for the drug. For every 100 people on the drug, you're saving about 6.5% from going on a ventilator. While the 54% sounds very impressive, when you look at it in relative terms, is not quite as impressive.