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Ram Selvaraju: Fall in Love with These Nine Biotech Stocks

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Ram Selvaraju When it comes to unearthing dynamic micro-cap biotech investment opportunities, Ram Selvaraju is a master. Selvaraju, managing director and head of healthcare equity research at Aegis Capital Corp., has selected nine names destined to attract investors willing to take calculated risks, which he shares in this interview with The Life Sciences Report. He also explains why he expects 2013 will be another good year for the biotech industry.

The Life Sciences Report: Is biotech going to continue its bullish trend during 2013?

Ram Selvaraju: Yes, I think so, George. The main and important consideration is the stance of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There has been a lot of discussion about how the FDA has been moderating its previously risk-averse stance. Moderation was clearly the case in 2012, when we had nearly 40 drugs approved—almost double the rate at which the FDA was approving drugs in lean years such as 2007 and 2008. Clearly there has been a paradigm shift. We think enthusiasm for small-cap biotech stocks will continue as long as the FDA is approving drugs that ought to be approved, and doing it in a timely fashion.

TLSR: I'm wondering if that relaxed stance filters down to phase 1, phase 2 and end-of-phase 2 meetings with drug developers, to facilitate getting drugs into pivotal clinical trials.

RS: I'd point to two specific areas where this is indeed the case. First, you can look at provisions in the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now (GAIN) Act of 2011, a piece of legislation designed to speed up the development and approval of novel antibiotics. The idea is to essentially force the FDA to be more proactive, to suggest faster and smaller clinical trials for novel antibiotics and antibacterial agents, and to facilitate the process so products get onto the market as quickly as possible. Everyone knows we need these drugs, with superbugs popping up in hospitals all over the country. If you are an antibiotics drug developer, the FDA's stance is going to benefit you in phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3, not just when the product is under review after all clinical development is completed.

Second, if you're a small-cap oncology drug developer, the same philosophy applies. The FDA is very focused on approving oncology drugs that target significant unmet medical needs and that give hope to patients who have failed multiple lines of existing approved therapies. The FDA's stance is going to benefit you even if you don't have a drug currently under review and even if you are only embarking upon early-stage clinical development.

TLSR: Have you somewhat migrated out of your hepatitis C virus (HCV) investment thesis?

RS: No. We still believe that HCV is a hot area. We just don't put a lot of stock in the companies that got there first, such as Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (VRTX:NASDAQ) and Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK:NYSE). We are much more bullish on companies like Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD:NASDAQ), with its nucleotide polymerase inhibitor sofosbuvir (GS-7977), and Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ACHN:NASDAQ), with its group of protease inhibitors that are currently in early- to mid-stage clinical development. We think Gilead and Achillion are much more likely to be leaders.

"We think enthusiasm for small-cap biotech stocks will continue as long as the FDA is approving drugs in a timely fashion."

We still believe the HCV marketplace is very attractive and that investors are going to be heavily focused on this market for several years to come, even though individuals in America don't get HCV at the same frequency that they once did due to broad-based screening of the blood supply. There is a massive undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, population out there that represents a good commercial opportunity for companies with HCV drugs in clinical development. No question: Investors are interested in this area, and we want to keep our hand in that game.

TLSR: Could we talk about some companies? Go ahead with an idea.

RS: At this juncture we are looking primarily at companies with significant value-driving catalysts this year. One of these is antibiotic developer Trius Therapeutics Inc. (TSRX:NASDAQ). We have been bullish on Trius for quite some time. It recently raised capital; it is very well funded. It is highly unlikely that there will be an additional near-term dilutive capital raise. We think investors should take a look at this company now, and consider this a reasonable and timely entry point.

TLSR: Go ahead and talk about the catalyst. When is it anticipated?

RS: It is expected to occur in the second half of March, with the release of top-line data from a second phase 3 trial of the company's novel antibiotic, tedizolid phosphate, a member of the oxazolidinone family. This is a confirmatory trial for skin structure infections. Since the designs of the first phase 3 trial and this one are virtually identical, we believe the second trial will be positive as well. We are very enthusiastic about the upcoming data release.

Perhaps most importantly, we believe Trius is the only small-cap antibiotic drug developer focusing on a drug that is not a member of a crowded class. Currently there is only one other approved drug that belongs to the oxazolidinone class: Pfizer Inc.'s (PFE:NYSE) Zyvox (linezolid), which does about $1.4 billion ($1.4B) in sales a year—a very successful agent. If we look at Trius' market cap, it is currently trading at a roughly $200 million ($200M) market valuation and at about a $100M+ enterprise value. We think that is extremely low for a company that's already in phase 3 and that has a risk-mitigated asset with a previously reported positive phase 3 study. The company is substantially undervalued, and it could be the beneficiary of fast-tracking under the provisions of the GAIN Act.

A lot of investors have had concerns about Trius because tedizolid would directly compete with Zyvox, which has a composition of matter patent expiring in May 2015. We have looked at the situation very carefully, and we don't believe that a generic of Zyvox will be introduced in 2015 because Pfizer has an additional patent covering a crystalline form of Zyvox that doesn't expire until 2018. Moreover, Pfizer has indicated that it has reached a settlement with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA:NASDAQ), which was in line to launch the first generic of linezolid. We now think that a generic will hit the market in late 2016 or early 2017. If its second phase 3 trial is positive, Trius' tedizolid could potentially be on the market by the middle of 2014. It would have a good two-and-a-half year runway in which to build sales, which could be in the $300–400M range in the U.S. and $200–300M outside the U.S. That is very doable.

Finally, the company has a very nice third-party licensing deal in place with Bayer Pharma AG (BAYN:XETRA), which represents some validation of tedizolid. Investors could get a heck of a lot for their money if they invest in the company at these levels. That's why we like Trius.

TLSR: Tedizolid's mechanism of action is the same as linezolid, right?

RS: That is correct.

TLSR: Some patients treated with linezolid may have developed mutated strains of bacteria for which the product may no longer be effective. Will that confer cross-resistance to tedizolid?

RS: That's a very good question, and I'm glad you asked. For a long time there was hardly any resistance to linezolid. It was very popular because bacteria seemed to find it very difficult to evolve resistance to the drug. However, in recent years, linezolid resistance has been developing and climbing. Now, about 1% of individuals receiving linezolid wind up showing resistance, and we expect that figure to continue to climb—although in our view it's not going above 10% anytime soon.

Tedizolid, however, appears to be active against a broad spectrum of linezolid-resistant strains. It is not a given that if a patient is resistant to linezolid, he or she automatically will be resistant to tedizolid. In fact, it is more likely that using Trius' drug would provide benefit to patients with resistant bugs. That is a very positive feature.

TLSR: Your implied return here is 200%, with your target price of $14. Is that what you expect from the results of the phase 3 data that are anticipated in the second half of March?

RS: Our price target is an 18-month target. We are factoring in not only the impact of the phase 3 trial, but also the impact of a formal filing at the FDA, the FDA's acceptance of the filing and eventual drug approval. We expect approval in mid-2014, assuming that Trius files on the back of positive phase 3 results in the middle of this year. I would say that we are among the more bullish groups on the Street with respect to this company.

TLSR: What's your next idea?

RS: We have a $6 target price on Galena Biopharma Inc. (GALE:NASDAQ). Galena also recently raised capital, about $24M toward the end of last year. We think this is a promising story for two reasons. First of all, the company is going after breast cancer, which is a massive disease indication, and it is attacking with a vaccine, not an antibody.

"The FDA is very focused on approving oncology drugs that target significant unmet medical needs."

Second, we like Galena because of one of its clinical programs (not its lead program but a phase 2 trial) will be partially supported by Roche Holding AG (RHHBY:OTCQX). Roche acquired antibody developer Genentech in 2009, and is now the largest purveyor of oncology-focused drugs in the world. The phase 2 trial is studying the potential synergistic effect of using Galena's proprietary breast cancer vaccine, nelipepimut-S or E75, called NeuVax, in combination with Herceptin (trastuzumab), which is Genentech's monoclonal antibody. Herceptin has previously been used only for the treatment of HER2/neu-positive breast cancer (HER2 3+ level and above). If this study turns out to be positive, showing a synergistic effect with NeuVax + Herceptin, there is a good possibility that Roche/Genentech will have an acquisition interest in Galena because of its strategic interest in the breast cancer space and in keeping the Herceptin/HER2 franchise alive. It would be difficult to genericize Herceptin because it is a monoclonal antibody; Herceptin's patent protection officially runs out in 2015.

In addition, we don't think the market is giving Galena value for its pipeline. Investors are focused on the development of NeuVax in its lead program, as a single agent in a phase 3 study. But we think NeuVax could provide a way to target a breast cancer patient population that is more difficult to treat, patients who are less likely to respond to Herceptin by itself.

TLSR: The lead program—the phase 3 study—is slated to enroll 700 patients, and is now in progress. But the company is going to report interim data after the first 70 events in late 2013/early 2014. Is this going to be a major catalyst?

RS: We think it will be. We have pointed investors toward looking at this as the main catalyst that they could benefit from. We also have an 18-month price target on this company. The target reflects what we think the valuation would be if that interim analysis turns out positive.

TLSR: Ram, you said you didn't believe the Street was giving enough credit to the company's pipeline. Were you referring to Galena's immunizing agent, folate binding protein-E39 (FBP), to prevent recurrence of ovarian cancer, which is only in a phase 1 study?

RS: No, it is more than that. We think the Street is not giving credit to the possibility of combining NeuVax with Herceptin, let alone the possibility of utilizing NeuVax in treatments for node-negative breast cancer or prostate cancer or, for that matter, the utilization of FBP in endometrial and ovarian cancer. This company has a lot of different shots on goal that are not being valued by the market right now.

TLSR: In early December, the company announced a collaboration with Leica Biosystems, a German company, to develop a companion diagnostic paired with NeuVax. Roche actually acquired Ventana Medical Systems back in 2008 to test for the levels of the HER2 antigen. Why does another biomarker have to be developed for NeuVax?

RS: I don't think we can say definitively that there is a reliable way to identify patients who express the HER2 antigen on the surfaces of their tumor cells, especially at levels that have been shown to be preferentially responsive to a treatment like NeuVax. Galena wants to explore the possibility of developing something more accurate than what is already out there.

TLSR: Another idea, please.

RS: We are very bullish on Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc. (SGYP:NASDAQ). This company recently reported positive phase 3 data from the first pivotal trial of its lead drug candidate, plecanatide, for chronic idiopathic constipation. With this positive phase 3 result, investors should be very confident that subsequent pivotal trials will be positive as well. We believe that investors should focus on Synergy's presentation of data at Digestive Disease Week, held in mid-May in Orlando, Florida. There is a possibility that company could provide evidence that plecanatide is meaningfully better than Ironwood Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s (IRWD:NASDAQ) drug Linzess (linaclotide), which was approved by the FDA at the end of August and has been launched here in the U.S.

"There is a massive undiagnosed population out there that represents a good commercial opportunity for companies with HCV drugs in clinical development."

A word on Ironwood. The stock is at about $13 right now, with a market cap of about $1.4B and an implied enterprise value of around $1.2B. Ironwood is attractive primarily because linaclotide, a member of the same class of drugs as Synergy's plecanatide, has gone through four positive phase 3 trials. It was launched in mid-December with Ironwood's marketing partner Forest Laboratories Inc. (FRX:NYSE), which booked $19M in Linzess sales in the last two weeks of December alone. Even if investors assume that a significant proportion of that number was due to channel stuffing and stocking, they could still legitimately expect Linzess to be a $100M+ generator in 2013. We certainly expect it to become a blockbuster drug eventually.

We are bullish on both Synergy and its nearest competitor, Ironwood. But we also believe Synergy's drug could turn out to be better than Ironwood's product, even if only marginally. For that reason, we don't believe that Synergy deserves to trade at such a significant discount, down at a $390M market cap. Ironwood owns about 40% of Linzess, and if you use Ironwood's market cap as a proxy for determining the overall market value of linaclotide, then Synergy trades at about 15% of the implied market value of linaclotide, which is a true apples-to-apples comparison since Synergy owns 100% of plecanatide. We don't think that valuation discrepancy is justified.

TLSR: So you're looking for at least a $1B market cap for Synergy?

RS: Correct.

TLSR: Another name?

RS: We recently picked up coverage on the specialty pharma company Pernix Therapeutics Holdings Inc. (PTX:NYSE.MKT). We're very bullish on the company primarily because we like its organizational strategy. Pernix recently relisted on the NASDAQ, and we think that is very positive.

We also believe that the company's strategy of being extremely acquisitive is likely to continue in 2013, and that is eventually going to pay dividends. Very few companies are as good as this one in terms of identifying and realizing synergies from a sales and marketing perspective between its endogenous sales force and the sales forces of the companies that it acquires. In 2012 alone, Pernix, which started with a market cap of around $200M, did acquisitions amounting to $130M. It is a very aggressive company. The CEO of the firm, Cooper Collins, came up through the ranks of the sales organization. He utilizes that experience to full effect in his management of the company.

If investors look at Pernix's current valuation of about $237M, and then look at its projected growth rate from a revenue-and-earnings perspective, the only conclusion they can reach is that this company is fundamentally undervalued.

TLSR: Ram, this is a dramatically different type of company than you typically cover. What do you like about it?

RS: It has a wide array of marketed products. It is also profitable. We expect it to do $0.34 in earnings this year and $0.50 next year, but we also expect it to grow from roughly $140–150M in revenue this year to close to $200M in revenue next year, which is significant. Over time that's going to trickle down to the bottom line. For the company to be trading at less than two times projected 2013 sales currently is an indication that now is a good entry point for investors.

We believe the company will continue to be acquisitive, and also hope that one of its acquisitions has a beneficial impact on the company's effective tax rate, which is pretty high at around 40%. Even without lowering its effective tax rate, Pernix's future acquisitions are going to be strategically beneficial, and the company is going to significantly grow both top and bottom lines going forward.

TLSR: I did note that the company has grown its revenue dramatically over the past four years, yet the stock price doesn't reflect that at all. In fact, shares are down 20% over the past two years. Do you think the company is being punished for being acquisitive?

RS: Yes. In recent months the company's acquisitive strategy has not resonated as much with investors as it ought to have.

TLSR: I've been looking at the company, and I couldn't determine any specific binary event or other share-price mover. What do you see?

RS: I would disagree. This is strictly a dollars-and-cents story. Basically, this company is going to go through a number of binary events, but it is also going to go through a number of value-driving catalysts, none of which, in and of themselves, are binary events. Earnings releases, future acquisitions, prescription trends—these are all value drivers for Pernix.

If the company continues to stick to its very disciplined approach of identifying good bolt-on acquisitions, and sticks to paying for them with equity as opposed to debt, thereby keeping its debt load relatively manageable, it will be successful. It also has to remain aggressive about identifying and implementing cost synergies in its sales and marketing infrastructure. Eventually growth on the bottom line is going to catch up with growth from the top line, which over the course of the past two years has been very significant.

TLSR: We spoke about Lpath Inc. (LPTN:NASDAQ) in our last interview. I found it to be an extremely interesting story. Your target price is $40, which would make this a $400M market cap company. It would be a major grand slam for investors. It is the largest implied return in your coverage, I think. Could you address it today?

RS: We have been fans of Lpath for a long time, though we have been dissatisfied with the pace at which it has progressed through its phase 2 proof-of-concept clinical development program with its lead product candidate, Isonep (sonepcizumab). This is for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a massive unmet need; the target is sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P).

But that program is now solidly back on track. We expect positive data to read out from its Nexus phase 2 study in H1/14, which is six to nine months behind the original schedule. At the end of the day we don't think it's a meaningful delay. Lpath's partner, Pfizer, remains very committed.

TLSR: Lpath's program appears to be very advanced for its small market cap. Am I missing something here?

RS: It is very rare to see a $50–60M market cap company with all of the positive attributes that Lpath has—a monoclonal antibody technology platform, a lead drug candidate with a very differentiated mechanism of action and efficacy profile targeting a high-value indication like ophthalmology and, to put the icing on the cake, a partnership with one of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer. If this phase 2 data set turns out positive, there is a very good probability that Pfizer will buy the company out to get full access to the technology platform, instead of continuing to pay milestones to Lpath.

"We still believe that HCV is a hot area."

The phase 2 trial is interesting because there is no placebo (control) arm in the study. Essentially, it is aimed at identifying the activity profile of the agent and figuring out whether Isonep could potentially be better than Lucentis (ranibizumab), which is a $1B+ franchise for Roche/Genentech in the treatment of wet AMD. Lucentis doesn't work that well in wet AMD, but it's still a hugely profitable drug. If Lpath is able to demonstrate that Isonep provides a benefit greater than that of Lucentis, the company is essentially sitting on a gold mine.

But this is a binary-event company. Therefore, more risk-tolerant investors should be looking at Lpath. But, as you said, the upside potential is substantial.

TLSR: Because of its low current valuation, the upside is off the charts. But how much downside is there with Lpath?

RS: We think the downside is very minimal because the company has a monoclonal antibody technology platform. In fact, it's the only company in the world that can make monoclonal antibodies against what are called bioactive lipids, which are very important inflammatory mediators in the body. They drive all kinds of diseases, from fibrotic disorders to inflammatory disorders to autoimmune disease to cancer. As you know, monoclonal antibodies are valuable therapeutic molecules because they are very difficult to manufacture correctly, and therefore very difficult to genericize. For all of these reasons, we continue to be bullish on Lpath.

TLSR: Lpath has a systemic formulation of sonepcizumab (branded Asonep) that it wants to use in cancers, multiple sclerosis (MS), inflammatory disease and colitis, and it was supposed to be entering phase 2 in 2012. You mentioned some frustration in delays. Did it meet that goal?

RS: There hasn't been real progress in the pipeline aside from that with Isonep in the treatment of AMD. This is primarily because the company, even after a recent raise of capital, is still capital constrained and is not in a position to assess the development of a monoclonal antibody in a disease indication like MS. If it shows prominence in wet AMD, and if the company winds up getting acquired by Pfizer, then it would potentially try to develop something in this regard.

I'd also note that the systemic formulation of its S1P-targeting monoclonal antibody (Asonep) was previously tested in a phase 1b study in solid tumors. It got very good data. Its efficacy was equivalent to Genentech/Roche's Avastin (bevicizumab) but without the side-effect profile. That is a disease indication that big pharma could potentially come back to. But as of right now, there is no active clinical development in that area.

TLSR: When we last spoke in November, you talked about Neuralstem Inc. (CUR:NYSE.MKT). How is it doing?

RS: Neuralstem has gone from strength to strength recently. It had a phenomenal year in 2012. One of the watershed events for the company was the publication of a landmark Cell paper (press release) discussing its technology platform and its lead cell therapy candidate, NSI-566 (human spinal cord stem cells), which demonstrated the ability to completely regrow damaged spinal cords in rats. This has never been seen before.

On top of that, the company reported additional safety and anecdotal efficacy data from an ongoing phase 1/2 study in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which it is also addressing with its NSI-566 cell line. ALS is a massive unmet need. It's an orphan disorder, a chronic neurodegenerative disease that typically causes death within three to five years of diagnosis. These patients are absolutely desperate.

If Neuralstem's cells turn out to have even a minor impact on functional independence or motor function in the context of ALS patients, it could very easily be fast-tracked toward approval, even if the patient data set is relatively small. The company finished an 18-patient phase 1/2 study in ALS, and now it wants to go to the FDA and potentially get approval to start a pivotal phase 3 study with 50–60 patients. Potentially, this trial could kick off well before the end of this year.

The company also has a small molecule drug that is finishing up safety testing. It could potentially get an initial read on efficacy. That drug is targeted toward major depression. Those data are going to come out this quarter.

"Monoclonal antibodies are valuable therapeutic molecules because they are very difficult to manufacture correctly, and therefore very difficult to genericize."

Finally, and perhaps most exciting, is that the company announced on Jan. 14 that it had received approval from the FDA to begin a phase 1 trial using its NSI-566 cells in the context of spinal cord injury. The idea here is to do a proof-of-concept study that would enroll five to eight patients who are paraplegic or even quadriplegic, and look at whether injection of these cells directly into the central nervous system could potentially regenerate the damaged spinal cord and restore some function. These patients don't have bowel function. They don't have bladder function. Their quality of life is extremely poor. With spinal cord injury, everybody basically assumes that a cure is hopeless.

In this particular context, it is very encouraging that the FDA gave Neuralstem such timely approval to start this trial. The company could potentially generate efficacy data in spinal cord injury by the end of this year. If that turns out to be successful, we think Neuralstem could apply for rapid access to the market because, as I said, there is currently nothing out there to help spinal cord injury patients.

TLSR: Is this an acute spinal cord injury indication, or is this for chronic spinal cord injury?

RS: This study will look at chronic injury patients who are one to two years post-injury. The trial will look at up to eight patients, none of whom have motor or sensory function. These patients are completely paralyzed.

TLSR: Has the company explained how its stem cell and the small molecule programs might have been of assistance to each other, and how they might be used together?

RS: Yes, absolutely. The company has been very vocal about the fact that, if it didn't have the neural stem cell technology platform, it never would have discovered the small molecule, NSI-189, which is the lead compound in its neurogenic drug platform. Neuralstem discovered NSI-189 and its backups by utilizing the expertise it gained from the development of the neural stem cell technology platform. NSI-189 is known to effectively promote neurogenesis in the hippocampus, which is the region of the brain that is supposed to be responsible for learning and memory.

TLSR: Neuralstem is up 37% over the past six months. We haven't seen this kind of performance in a stem cell company in a long time.

RS: A lot of stem cell companies go through boom-and-bust cycles. But with respect to Neuralstem in particular, 2013 should be a transformative year, and should give us a much better handle on how speculative its programs are. My $4 price target could wind up being very conservative. If the company is able to generate proof-of-concept and efficacy data in chronic spinal cord injury, even in a very small group of patients, that would be very exciting for investors.

I have very high hopes for this trial. This company has multiple shots on goal, and there has been a lot of progress made over the course of 2012. And 2013 has started very promisingly for Neuralstem.

TLSR: We have been talking about spinal cord injury. You also follow InVivo Therapeutics Holdings Corp. (NVIV:OTCBB). Could you comment on it?

RS: InVivo is developing biocompatible scaffold-based therapy for neurodegenerative disease, particularly in spinal cord injury. It needs to get into the clinics, the same way that Neuralstem did. That will have a very significant impact on its stock price.

InVivo is in the process of trying to get the FDA to sign off on what it calls a humane device exemption (HDE). If the company succeeds in obtaining the HDE and does a proof-of-concept clinical study in five to eight patients with spinal cord injury, and if it sees evidence of efficacy, that would potentially be sufficient to obtain an approval and get its scaffold onto the market. We anticipate the beginning of a clinical program in the coming months. Obviously, we'd like it to happen sooner rather than later.

We don't think InVivo's approach is likely to have the same impact on regeneration as Neuralstem's approach, but the two approaches could potentially be complementary. The scaffolding could be seeded with stem cells. Neuralstem and InVivo could potentially wind up working together to develop a synergistic solution that involves the implantation of both neural stem cells as well as a scaffold.

TLSR: Do these companies have a formal collaboration currently?

RS: I know that they have been talking to each other for several years. If and when InVivo gets into the clinic with its scaffold-based technology, there will be more rationale for the companies to begin a meaningful collaboration.

TLSR: Ram, you follow Venaxis Inc. (APPY:NASDAQ), formerly AspenBio Pharma. Could you comment on it?

RS: We like Venaxis primarily because we think it's a risk-mitigated investment opportunity. We don't think the market opportunity for the company's proprietary AppyScore test, for diagnosis of acute appendicitis, is massive, but for a company with a $19M market cap, it is significant. It provides investors with the opportunity to make a substantial return without taking on a great deal of downside risk.

The main factor here is receipt of FDA approval. To get that Venaxis needs to conclude a registrational trial with the AppyScore test, which it is currently doing. This AppyScore test-based validation study is probably going to enroll about 2,000 patients, and the company will report data in early Q4/13, hopefully. That would allow it to file for approval via the 510(k) device pathway by the end of this year. If Venaxis is able to do that, then we could see the AppyScore test officially enter the market in 2014.

TLSR: The company didn't really have to seek FDA approval. Why does it want to file?

RS: It would have had a lot of difficulty securing reimbursement for the AppyScore test if it tried to launch it without FDA approval. It could have done that, yes, but we don't think it would have been very successful.

TLSR: It's been a pleasure, Ram. Thank you.

RS: It's been my pleasure. Thank you.

Raghuram "Ram" Selvaraju's professional career started at the Geneva-based biotech firm Serono in 2000, where he discovered the first novel protein candidate developed entirely within the company. He subsequently became the youngest recipient of the company's Inventorship Award for Exceptional Innovation and Creativity. Selvaraju started in the securities industry with Rodman & Renshaw as a biotechnology equity research analyst. He was the top-ranked (#1) biotech analyst in The Wall Street Journal's "Best on the Street" survey (2006) and went on to become head of healthcare equity research at Hapoalim Securities, the New York-based broker/dealer subsidiary of Bank Hapoalim B. M., Israel's largest financial services group. While at Hapoalim, Selvaraju was regularly featured in The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, BioWorld Today, and Reuters/AP. He was also a regular guest on the Bloomberg TV program "Taking Stock," appeared with Bloomberg TV's on-air correspondents Betty Liu and Gigi Stone and was a guest on CNBC's "Street Signs with Herb Greenberg." He is currently an analyst with Aegis Capital Corp.

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1) George S. Mack of The Life Sciences Report conducted this interview. He personally and/or his family own shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: None.
2) The following companies mentioned in the interview are sponsors of The Life Sciences Report: Galena Biopharma Inc., Lpath Inc., Neuralstem Inc. Merck & Co. Inc. is not affiliated with Streetwise Reports. Streetwise Reports does not accept stock in exchange for services. Interviews are edited for clarity.
3) Ram Selvaraju: I personally and/or members of my immediate household own shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: None. I personally and/or members of my immediate household am paid by the following companies mentioned in this interview: None. I was not paid by Streetwise Reports for participating in this interview.
4) Aegis Capital Corp. has provided investment banking services for Neuralstem Inc., InVivo Therapeutics Corp., Venaxis Inc. and Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc.

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