HCW starts Innate Pharma at buy

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H.C. Wainwright initiated coverage of French-based Innate Pharma (PSE:IPH) with a “buy” rating and price target of €16.50. The stock closed at €10.70 on August 29.

Analyst Swayampakula Ramakanth writes that Innate is advancing the use of natural killer (NK) cell-directed therapies in immuno-oncology.

He suggests that NKs may have advantages over checkpoint inhibitors that include targeting novel receptors, which may provide additional avenues of attack against difficult to treat cancers, and the potential for combinational therapies because of the synergistic mechanisms of action between T-cells and NK cells.

With uniquely positioned clinical programs, strong collaborations with key players in the immuno-oncology space, and sufficient cash to fund operations through 2019, “we believe that Innate Pharma is an underappreciated immuno-oncology play with high-growth potential,” he added.

Innate has forged collaborations with Big Pharma to develop its most advanced therapies, lirilumab and monalizumab, that target killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors, a family of activating and inhibitory receptors that modulate the activity of NKs.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is developing lirilumab for different solid and hematological cancers, while monalizumab, under a partnership agreement with AstraZeneca, is being evaluated for different tumor types as well.