Roth starts Fate Therapeutics at buy

Roth Capital Partners has launched coverage of Fate Therapeutics (NASDAQ:FATE) with a “buy” rating and a target price of $8. The stock closed at $3.18 on Wednesday.

Analyst Mark Breidenbach writes that the company's lead asset, ProTmune, could address a serious unmet medical need in patients requiring hematopoietic transplants (HSCTs), and “we expect to see early clinical data by the end of 2016.”

ProTmune has received fast track designation from the FDA, and is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial.

In addition, he said the company’s off-the-shelf, natural killer (NK) cell cancer immunotherapy is slated to enter the clinic in early 2017, diversifying the company's pipeline.

“We believe now is an opportune time to explore the investment case for Fate, given that updated clinical and preclinical results are expected from most of the company’s programs around the ASH timeframe in December 2016,” Mr. Breidenbach said.

“We believe investors should keep an eye on Fate’s Adaptive NK program, which uses ex vivo modulators to overcome some of the most important shortcomings of conventional NK cell therapies,” he said. Preclinically, the Adaptive NK cells have shown potent activity against both liquid and solid tumors.

Mr. Breidenbach said that Fate also has demonstrated that reprogrammed hematopoietic cells could have a therapeutic benefit in autoimmune indications, including Type 1 diabetes.

Another piece of Fate’s portfolio is its induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) platform, which could greatly facilitate production of highly engineered cell therapies, he added.