Top 3 Canadian Biotech Stocks of 2024

Biotech is a dynamic industry that is driving scientific advancements and innovation in healthcare.

According to Grandview Research, the global biotech market was worth US$1.55 trillion in 2023, and the firm expects it to grow at a CAGR of 13.96 percent between 2024 and 2030 to reach a value of US$3.08 trillion.

Data on Canadian biotech stocks was collected on July 2, 2024, using TradingView’s stock screener and companies listed had market capitalizations of over C$50 million at that time. Companies on the TSX, TSXV and CSE were considered, but no TSXV-listed stocks made the list this time. Read on to learn what’s been driving these biotech firms.

1. ME Therapeutics Holdings (CSE:METX)

Company Profile

Year-on-year gain: 7,900 percent; market cap: C$93.45 million; share price: C$4.00

ME Therapeutics Holdings is a biotechnology company focused on developing cancer-fighting drug candidates that can increase the efficacy of current immuno-oncology drugs by targeting suppressive myeloid cells, which have been found to hinder the effectiveness of existing immuno-oncology treatments. Immuno-oncology is a relatively new area of cancer drug research, and has shown promising results when used to treat cancer with low survival rates.

In December 2023, ME Therapeutics announced that its most advanced preclinical asset, h1B11-12, an antibody targeting G-CSF, had been found to bind to and neutralize G-CSF in lab tests and animal studies. Studies conducted with Dr. Kenneth Harder’s laboratory at the University of British Columbia revealed that G-CSF is involved in many different processes influencing how breast and colon cancers grow and spread.

In a January update, ME Therapeutics shared that preliminary results for clinical trials of h1B11-12 on non-human primates were tolerated well up to a dose of 10 milligrams per kilogram. The next step is to study how the drug behaves inside the body, which will help the company plan future research and decide how to continue developing h1B11-12.

ME Therapeutics saw a major share price boost on February 27, when it announced a non-brokered private placement to raise gross proceeds of up to C$1.55 million. It said it was unaware of any other change that would account for the rise.

2. Medicenna (TSX:MDNA)

Company Profile

Year-on-year gain: 172.86 percent; market cap: C$153.89 million; share price: C$1.91

Medicenna is a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company specializing in the development of innovative therapies for patients with challenging unmet needs. Its focus is on creating novel, highly selective versions of cytokines, such as IL-2, IL-4, and IL-13, which it refers to as ‘Superkines’ and ’empowered superkines.’

Cytokines are small proteins that play a crucial role in regulating immune responses and helping cells communicate. Interleukins, which Medicenna says are at the core of its therapies, are groups of cytokines. The company’s interleukins are engineered to fuse with specific molecules to optimize their function.

Medicenna’s mission is to leverage its expertise in cytokine biology to design life-changing therapies that can potentially transform people’s lives. Its therapies treat solid tumors, which have a low response rate to conventional cancer treatments, and autoimmune and neuroinflammatory diseases.

In April, the company shared the news that its lead candidate, MDNA11 has demonstrated therapeutic activity and an acceptable safety profile during clinical trials of monotherapy dose escalation in treating patients with advanced solid tumors. Late in the month, the company also closed on a C$20 million investment from RA Capital Management. The positive news flow provided enough momentum to push shares of Medicenna to a year-to-date high of C$2.85 on May 31.

More recently, Medicenna received regulatory approval for the European Medicines Agency to expand its phase 1/2 clinical trial of MDNA11 as a monotherapy and in combination with Keytruda to Europe.

3. Cardiol Therapeutics (TSX:CRDL)

Press ReleasesCompany Profile

Year-on-year gain: 116 percent; market cap: C$188.37 million; share price: C$2.70

Cardiol Therapeutics is a biopharma company developing innovative treatments for inflammation and fibrosis in cardiovascular conditions. Its research is concentrated on pericarditis, which is inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart; myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle; and heart failure.

Cardiol currently has two drug candidates in its pipeline. CardiolRX, the company’s lead candidate, is an orally administered cannabidiol that is being clinically studied for use in rare heart diseases, including recurrent pericarditis and acute myocarditis. Cardiol is also developing CRD-38, a drug formulation of cannabidiol that is administered subcutaneously for treating heart failure.

The company’s share price began a significant rise in mid-February, when the US Food and Drug Administration granted it orphan drug designation for CardiolRx. Less than a week later, Cardiol completed patient enrollment in a Phase 2 open-label pilot study investigating the safety, tolerability and efficacy of CardiolRx in patients with recurrent pericarditis.

The company went on to release positive top-line results in mid-June, which Cardiol President and CEO David Elsley said demonstrated ‘that oral administration of our small molecule CardiolRx™ led to marked reductions in pericarditis pain and inflammation.’ The company believes the results will help move the drug to Phase 3 clinical trials.

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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