It was a good news, bad news week for AIM-listed life sciences companies engaged in the battle to beat coronavirus (COVID-19).
For N4 Pharma, which is developing its delivery technology to carry coronavirus plasmid, there was disappointment as the latest proof-of-concept work delivered inconclusive results.
Undeterred, chief executive Nigel Theobald plans to move onto a further assessment of the promising technology. Unfortunately, the market wasn’t convinced and shares fell 37% to 6.1p.
In a week of contrasts, Fusion Antibodies (LON:FAB), up 118% at 195p, was in demand after it said it had made progress on the design, expression and validation of coronavirus spike proteins.
There were buyers on a ‘no news’ week for Genedrive (LON:GDR), up 54% at 11.7p, which is helping develop a portable COVID-19 testing kit (what health secretary Matt Hancock would give for a device of this kind).
Tiziana Life Sciences also provided some good news on the Covid front that lifted the shares 18% to 147p, building on the momentum that has seen the stock grow from less than 25p in March.
It has developed a nasal spray containing an antibody that its scientists think will combat the fatal symptoms of the virus. And it is taking the treatment, called foralumab, into clinical trials in Brazil a year ahead of schedule.
Tiziana currently has two shots at goal with a second Covid combatant, TZLS-501, currently undergoing pre-clinical assessment. A recent American stock offering, meanwhile, brought in £44mln, which leaves the business well-funded.
Turning to the wider market, the AIM-All Share was up 1.2% over the trading week at 968, buoyed by the performance of its two leading lights – the online retailers Boohoo (LON:BOO) and ASOS (LON:ASC), which rose 5.9% to 315.8p and 9.5% to 5,000p respectively.
The junior stocks index outperformed the FTSE 100, which was more or less flat.
Up 80% at 44.8p was Surface Transforms (LON:SCE ), the maker of disc brakes for supercars, which landed a “game changing” £27mln order from an unnamed vehicle maker.
The award doubles the group’s previous revenue projections for full-year 2022 and accelerates the business into profitability and cash generation, said chief executive Kevin Johnson.
Two green hydrogen companies– Ceres Power (LON:CWR) and ITM Power (LON:ITM) – caught the eye of Wall Street bank Citi, which initiated coverage of both companies with ‘buy’ recommendations.
The latter is now worth more than £1.3bn, while the former is currently fast approaching the £1bn mark.
Sheffield-based ITM advanced 8.9% to 276p this week after it said it had partnered on a new project to create green hydrogen production facilities and refuelling stations across Scotland.
Ceres closed the week 8.5% higher at 574.5p.
Moving in the opposite direction was Global Petroleum, whose stock sank 34% after raising £1.4mln via a discounted share placing to fund work on its Namibian acreage.
Finally, after six months in which the share price has performed strongly, investors locked in some profits from Futura Medical (LON:FUM).
Up from 7.75p six months ago, ‘check-out time’ came out around the 17.8p mark towards the end of last week.
Still, the outlook appears reasonably decent for the maker of a gel that is used to combat erectile dysfunction (ED). It is in the final stages of interaction with the US regulator, and has plans to launch MED3000 as an over the counter product.
In that regard, Futura confirmed this week it is in commercial talks with potential partners.
The opportunity is a remarkably large one. It is estimated that at least half of men with ED do not consult a doctor and, therefore, are not prescribed treatment. At the same time, pills such as Viagra and Cialis are not widely available over the counter. The UK is one of the few exceptions with Viagra Connect.
So, it will be interesting to see how Futura shares, off 12.1% at 15.65p this week, react if the group can bag a distributor for its ED breakthrough.