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What happened

Shares of Intrexon (NASDAQ:PGEN), a company focused on synthetic biology, rose by more than 14% in the month of September, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

XON Chart

XON data by YCharts.

So what?

Intrexon had several updates to share with investors during the month that help to explain the strong market reaction. Here's a quick summary of the highlights:

  • The company announced it has released its genetically modified Aedes mosquitos in 10 additional Brazilian cities. The hope is that these "Friendly" male mosquitos will mate with wild female mosquitoes, spreading a gene that will kill their offspring before adulthood, suppressing the spread of viruses like Zika, dengue, and chikungunya in the region.
  • A bipartisan coalition of 61 Florida House members sent a letter to the U.S. government urging it to allow the state to use Intrexon's mosquitoes to control the local mosquito population. The letter even went so far as to say that delaying use of the technology could "[present] an unnecessary health risk" to the people of Florida and could result in "the loss of human life." 
  • Intrexon's collaboration partner Fibrocell Science announced that it had completed enrollment in its phase 1/2 clinical trial of FCX-007. This compound is a hopeful treatment for recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, a congenital and progressive skin disease.
  • Intrexon's subsidiary Okanagan Specialty Fruits won FDA approval for its Arctic Fuji apple variety. This is the company's third FDA approval for a non-browning apple variety.

All in all, the news out of the company was universally positive, so it's easy to understand why shares jumped.

Now what?

Intrexon has turned into a mini-conglomerate over the last few years thanks to a series of acquisitions. In turn, Intrexon's revenue has grown substantially and it now owns several companies that are developing exciting technologies. If everything goes according to plan, it could lead to huge upside potential down the road. 

Despite all the investor excitement over a potential Zika solution, it will likely still be several years before this or any of Intrexon's projects start to generate meaningful product revenue. In the meantime, market watchers are expecting Intrexon to continue racking up losses. 

While Intrexon is a fascinating company, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep tabs on all of the projects it's working on. Given the huge complexity, I for one plan on keeping far away from this stock.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.