HCW starts ZIOPHARM at buy

H.C. Wainwright initiated coverage of ZIOPHARM Oncology (NASDAQ:ZIOP) with a “buy” rating and $9.50 price target. The stock closed at $5.85 on May 31.

Anchored by two cutting-edge technologies, ZIOPHARM is focused on developing novel immunotherapies against cancer. At the core of the company’s product pipeline are two proprietary gene-editing technologies: RheoSwitch Therapeutic System (RTS) and Sleeping Beauty.

“We believe these technologies offer unique benefits and have enabled ZIOPHARM to develop therapies that are potentially safer, faster, and cheaper than the competition,” writes analyst Swayampakula Ramakanth.

The company’s two lead products, Ad-RTS-hIL-12 and CD19 CAR-T cells, have achieved promising results in early-stage clinical studies against glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and lymphomas, respectively, he added.

ZIOPHARM is expected to initiate a Phase 3 pivotal study of Ad-RTS-hIL-12 to treat GBM in the second half this year.

“We believe that if early results could be replicated, Ad-RTS-hIL-12 may become the best-in-class treatment for this difficult indication. Furthermore, we note that the drug is an indication-agnostic immune activator with an acceptable safety profile, suggesting that it has the potential to be combined with other immunotherapies for synergistic effect,” he added.