HCW starts Translate Bio at buy; PT $21

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H.C. Wainwright initiated coverage of Translate Bio (NASDAQ:TBIO) with a “buy” rating and $21 price target. The stock closed at $8.05 on Dec. 24.

Translate Bio is developing treatments for diseases caused by an absence or dysfunction of a protein or gene. By using a proprietary messenger RNA therapeutic platform, the company can deliver mRNA that encodes functional proteins and therapeutically bypass the defect, writes analyst Andrew Fein.

The company’s lead programs are treatments for cystic fibrosis (CF) and ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (OTCD), a genetic disease that causes too much ammonia to accumulate in the blood.

In CF, Mr. Fein said Translate is developing an inhaled therapy and began a Phase 1/2 single ascending dose trial in the third quarter of 2018, advancing to a multiple ascending dose, which is expected to finish by the second quarter of 2019. A Phase 1 study in OTCD is expected to begin in the first half of 2019.

“We view the mRNA platform an exciting new opportunity that, if proven successful in either of these first two indications, could be rapidly expanded in other disease categories,” Mr. Fein said.

“Although the CF program is first targeting Class I mutations that derive from nonsense mutations, if successful, this approach could, we believe, ultimately target any CF mutation, even those currently treated by modulator therapies,” he added.

Stephen Kilmer