Roth starts Arcturus Therapeutics at buy; PT $14

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Roth Capital Partners launched coverage of Arcturus Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ARCT) with a “buy” rating and $14 price target. The stock closed at $4.84 on Feb. 19.

“Arcturus is a hidden gem in a sea of RNA medicines companies with a one-of-a-kind technology platform,” writes analyst Yasmeen Rahimi, adding that therapeutic mRNA drugs comprise an exciting new frontier for RNA-based medicine.

Ms. Rahimi said that compared with antisense oligonucleotides and RNA interference drugs that inhibit gene expression, mRNA drugs stimulate gene expression. “Arcturus is an RNA medicines company at the forefront of this evolving new treatment paradigm,” she added.

Ms. Rahimi said Arcturus’ main value driver is its wholly-owned program in ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (OTC), which has a planned IND filing in the second half of 2019 and is “perfectly situated for a strategic partnership, in our view.”

OTC is an inherited disorder that causes ammonia to accumulate in the blood. Ammonia is toxic if levels become too high.

Ms. Rahimi said OTC deficiency presents Arcturus with the opportunity to capture two catalysts in one: treat a rare disease where an mRNA drug is the ideal form of treatment and conduct a proof-of-concept study to show safety and targeting for its lipid-mediated RNA delivery platform, LUNAR.

Abby Hardy