Why Verastem Inc Shares Took Off Today

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Verastem Inc (NASDAQ: VSTM  ) have leveled off at a 12% gain this afternoon after rising throughout the morning following the company's pre-market publication of data regarding a mesothelioma treatment it's currently developing.

So what: Verastem announced  the publication of a paper with the dry scientific title of "Merlin Deficiency Predicts FAK Inhibitor Sensitivity: A Synthetic Lethal Relationship" in Science Translational Medicine this morning. The paper's primary conclusion is that the loss of tumor-suppressing merlin is a predictor of a cancer stem cell's increased responsiveness to focal adhesion kinase (FAK) inhibitor drugs. In other words, Verastem's development-stage FAK-inhibitor drug VS-6063 (defactinib) now has further scientific support for its ongoing development and eventual FDA approval.

Now what: Verastem shareholders have had a wild ride in the past year, as shares nearly doubled twice on a roller-coaster ride that's essentially brought one-year returns close to zero. VS-6063 is its most promising development, and investors have a way to go before anything can happen on the commercial side, if anything will. The paper is available online for purchase (link opens new window) for truly dedicated (and science-savvy) investors, and that may be your best source of guidance on any possible Verastem investment for some time.

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