BioTuesdays

Maxim starts Oncorus at buy; PT $35

Oncorus-Logo

Maxim Group initiated coverage of Oncorus (NASDAQ:ONCR) with a “buy” rating and price target of $35. The stock closed at $16.39 on March 15.

Oncorus is developing oncolytic viral (OV) immunotherapies for solid tumors and has two main platforms: a herpes-based virus (oHSV) platform and a synthetic virus platform.

oHSV is a validated approach, writes analyst Naureen Quibria, Ph.D. The company’s first oHSV platform is de-risked, with herpes simplex virus as its foundation, the same as Amgen’s marketed Imlygic, which having demonstrated efficacy and safety in the clinic, was approved for melanoma in 2015.

Oncorus’ ONCR-177, the lead asset from this platform, is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1 dose-escalation study.

“Oncorus’ technology offers a complementary approach to checkpoints. OVs can stimulate the host immune system to recruit T-cells, turning a ‘cold’ tumor ‘hot’, which makes oncolytic agents an ideal combination pairing with other immunotherapies, particularly checkpoints,” she added.

“NCR-177 could be a best-in-class OV candidate and has the potential for broad applicability in multiple cancer types,” Dr. Quibria said.

With an estimated $175-million in cash, Oncorus is well funded through multiple R&D catalysts beginning with Phase 1 data from ONCR-177 in the second half of 2021. “Though it’s somewhat early, even positive monotherapy data could support a higher valuation, in our view,” she added.

Sign up for the BioTuesdays weekly newsletter

Get the latest news on the healthcare industry’s corporate and clinical developments, executive moves, and market updates. Every Tuesday, in your inbox.