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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Emergent BioSolutions, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Editas Medicine, Cellectis and Thermo Fisher

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – October 13, 2020 – announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: Emergent BioSolutions Inc. EBS, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated VRTX, Editas Medicine, Inc. EDIT, Cellectis S.A. CLLS and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. TMO.

Here are highlights from Monday’s Analyst Blog:

Booming Gene Editing Market to Pep Up These 5 Biotech Stocks

The biotech space has been booming in the past decade, with areas like gene editing stealing the show as they increase scope for treating life-threatening diseases. Gene editing or genome engineering is a process in which a DNA is inserted, modified or replaced in the genome of any living organism. In recent years, scientists have been using gene editing technology to help treat diseases with a genomic basis, like cystic fibrosis, diabetes and cancer.

CRISPR or “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats” is a tool primarily used to edit genes at present. Many scientists believe that this year could be a breakthrough in finding cures for cancer in DNA and investors could get familiar with terms like CRISPR and precision medicine to make the most out of advancements in this space.

Additionally, the coronavirus outbreak has pushed scientists to look for a cure through gene editing, as this novel virus keeps wreaking havoc and claiming millions of lives globally.

Disruptive Biotech Making a Mark in 2020

Cancer has been the second-leading cause of death in the United States over the past few years. Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, nearly 599,108 people lost their lives due to cancer in 2019. Gene editing has now opened up ways in which alterations in the DNA will allow patients to train their body to destroy life-threatening tumors.

Additionally, utilization of order writing techniques to rewrite infected cells and tissues, and removal of harmful mutations are also expected to boost this space. Several biotech firms are now using immuno-oncology treatments in which the immuno-oncology class of drugs teach or direct the immune system to identify cancer and then destroy it. In fact, techniques like correction within the harmful mutations, disruption of infectious agent in the DNA, or the addition of therapeutic transgenes are boosting the gene editing market.

According to Emergen Research report, the global gene editing market is projected to reach $15.79 billion by 2027 from $4.44 billion in 2019, at a CAGR of 17.2%.

One of the recent gene editing tools worth mentioning is the PAC-MAN or Prophylactic Antiviral CRISPR in human cells tool. Stanford University scientists have developed an antiviral agent against the novel coronavirus that can target and destroy specific genetic strands of the virus inside the human cell itself. The PAC-MAN which is composed of an enzyme and a strand of guide RNA has provided promising results in the laboratory when tested on human lung cells infected with SARS-CoV-2.        


Prostate Cancer Highlights From ESMO 2020

Dr Johann S. de Bono, of The Institute of Cancer Research in London, reviews key studies on prostate cancer presented at the 2020 ESMO Virtual Congress, including the phase 3 PROfound trial, which led to the approval of the PARP inhibitor olaparib for patients with metastatic prostate cancer.

He also discusses updated results of the STAMPEDE phase 3 trial of abiraterone plus ADT and the IPATential150 study of the AKT inhibitor ipatasertib plus abiraterone for patients with advanced prostate cancer.

Finally, he reviews several emerging new immunotherapies for prostate cancer that are showing promise in early clinical trials.

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Spok Conference Highlights Importance of Care Team Communication Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Company to demonstrate the latest capabilities of its cloud-native communication platform, Spok Go®

This week Spok, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Spok Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPOK) and a global leader in healthcare communications, welcomes more than 550 attendees to Connect 20 Virtual, the Company’s annual conference for healthcare professionals. The virtual event will give healthcare clinicians, IT experts, and C-suite executives a chance to learn from one another about the future of care team communication and share insights about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how they use health IT.

“2020 has been one of the most difficult and unprecedented periods in healthcare,” said Vincent D. Kelly, president and chief executive officer of Spok Holdings, Inc. “As we look toward the future of healthcare communications, there are many unknowns. Yet one thing is certain: Healthcare has changed, but the importance of care team communication has not.”

This year, Spok is pleased to present its annual conference in a virtual format at no cost to its customers as a gesture of gratitude to all the front-line professionals. The two-day event will feature speakers from hospitals or health systems who will share lessons from the response to COVID-19, how to improve care through better communications, and tips to improve efficiencies in the contact center. Attendees will also see the newest capabilities of Spok Go®, the cloud-native clinical communication platform that makes communications smarter and faster.

In addition, Connect 20 Virtual attendees will receive training and product updates, attend new product sessions, and have opportunities for virtual networking.

Updates from the conference will be posted to the Spok Twitter feed.

About Spok

Spok, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Spok Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPOK), headquartered in Springfield, Virginia, is proud to be a global leader in healthcare communications. We deliver clinical information to care teams when and where it matters most to improve patient outcomes. Top hospitals rely on the Spok Go® and Spok Care Connect® platforms to enhance workflows for clinicians and support administrative compliance. Our customers send over 100 million messages each month through their Spok® solutions. When seconds count and patients’ lives are at stake, Spok enables smarter, faster clinical communication. For more information, visit or follow @spoktweets on Twitter.

Spok is a trademark of Spok Holdings, Inc. Spok Go and Spok Care Connect are trademarks of Spok, Inc.

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Donna Scott
+1 (952) 230-5344
[email protected]

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CRSwNP Highlights From the AAO-HNSF 2020 Virtual Meeting

The annual American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNSF) 2020 Meeting was held virtually this year and also included abstracts from the American Rhinologic Society Annual Meeting.

Stella Lee, MD, chief of the Division of Sino-Nasal Disorder and Allergy at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, reviews important studies and data presented at the meeting that could have important implications for patient care.

Dr Lee highlights developments in the use of protein biomarkers to help determine potential efficacy of systemic steroid therapy in postsurgical patients with CRSwNP. The study could aid in the prevention of overtreatment in certain patients.

Biologic therapies approved for use in asthma management continue to show efficacy in patients with CRSwNP. The results of the SYNAPSE study of mepolizumab, an anti-IL-5 biologic therapy, showed clear clinical benefit in patients with CRSwNP. The multi-institutional, phase 3 study met primary endpoints and showed that mepolizumab reduced the need for systemic corticosteroid therapy and sinus surgery.

Dr Lee also highlights data from the LIBERTY NP SINUS-24 and LIBERTY NP SINUS-52 phase 3 studies on dupilumab, which indicated efficacy irrespective of the number of prior sinonasal surgeries. Dupilumab also consistently reduced rescue treatment with systemic corticosteroids vs placebo and was well tolerated.

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CytRx Highlights Use of Licensed Drug Aldoxorubicin in Treatment of Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Pancreatic Cancer

Reid’s Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer is Reportedly in “Complete Remission” After Combination Immunotherapy That Included NantKwest’s PD-L1 t-haNK, ImmunityBio’s N-803 and Aldoxorubicin

ImmunityBio and NantKwest Announced in May 2020 That They Planned to Commence a Randomized Phase 2 Study of This Experimental Treatment for Pancreatic Cancer

CytRx Corporation (OTCQB: CYTR) (“CytRx” or the “Company”), a specialized biopharmaceutical company focused on research and development for the oncology and neurodegenerative disease categories, today highlighted the use of its licensed drug – aldoxorubicin – in the combination immunotherapy used by ImmunityBio, Inc. and NantKwest, Inc. to treat former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s stage IV pancreatic cancer. It was widely reported in June 2020 that former Senator Reid described himself as being in “complete remission” after receiving experimental treatment pioneered by the Chief Executive Officer of ImmunityBio and NantKwest.1

Earlier this year, CytRx highlighted that ImmunityBio and NantKwest announced the initiation of a Phase 2 randomized, two-cohort, open-label study for first and second-line treatment of locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer (QUILT-88). The study received Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) authorization and was slated to initially enroll 268 subjects across both cohorts. It has been indicated that enrollment was expected to begin in June 2020.

“We wish former Senator Reid the best now that he is reportedly in complete remission and hope that his combination immunotherapy treatment can become the basis for treating other individuals with pancreatic cancer,” said Steven A. Kriegsman, CytRx’s Chairman and CEO. “Although former Senator Reid is only one person and other comprehensive studies and trials are necessary and required, we continue to be encouraged with the progress and results of this promising pancreatic cancer treatment that includes aldoxorubicin.”

CytRx out-licensed global development, manufacturing and commercialization rights for aldoxorubicin to ImmunityBio in 2017. The Company has an agreement with ImmunityBio that can yield up to $343 million in potential milestone payments as well as prospective royalties on sales of aldoxorubicin.

About CytRx Corporation

CytRx Corporation (OTCQB: CYTR) is a biopharmaceutical company with expertise in discovering and developing new therapeutics principally to treat patients with cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. CytRx’s most advanced drug conjugate, aldoxorubicin, is an improved version of the widely used anti-cancer drug doxorubicin and has been out-licensed to ImmunityBio, Inc. In addition, CytRx’s other drug candidate, arimoclomol, was sold to Orphazyme A/S (Nasdaq Copenhagen exchange: ORPHA.CO) in exchange for milestone payments and royalties. Orphazyme is testing arimoclomol in four indications including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Niemann-Pick disease Type C (NPC), Gaucher disease and sporadic Inclusion Body Myositis (sIBM). CytRx Corporation’s website is

About Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer kills an estimated 47,000 people annually; it is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., and 57,600 new cases are expected in 2020. Less than 5% of these patients will live for more than five years after diagnosis, and the median survival prognosis is 5 to 8 months. Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of