What happened

Shares of BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:BCRX), a clinical-stage biotech focused on treating rare diseases, popped after the company announced the appointment of a new board member. The stock jumped 15.7% higher in midday trading and ended Monday's session with a 12.9% gain.

So what

Investor-relations departments have to issue a release whenever members of a board of directors come and go, but they rarely move biotech stocks this far. BioCryst's stock soared today because its new board member is Dr. Helen Thackray, the chief medical officer (CMO) of GlycoMimetics (NASDAQ:GLYC).

Person on a podium holding an upward-pointing arrow

Image source: Getty Images.

Dr. Thackray adds clinical rare-disease experience through her work as a pediatrician, which could be helpful if BioCryst's lead candidate, BCX7353, launches in 2020.

Now what

BioCryst's lead candidate is a small-molecule drug that inhibits the same enzyme implicated in hereditary angioedema (HAE) as an antibody marketed by Takeda Pharmaceutical (OTC:TKPHF). Phase 3 trial data for Takeda's drug, Takhzyro, showed it lowered HAE attack rates by 70% or better for 89% of patients. While it's dangerous to compare results from different populations, BCX7353 only helped 50% of HAE patients meet the same goal.

Dr. Thackray's role on BioCryst's board of directors will be very different from the one she plays as CMO at GlycoMimetics. It's hard to see how she'll be able to improve underwhelming results from BCX7353's phase 3 trial. Those results might be good enough to earn an approval from the Food and Drug Administration, but a successful launch doesn't seem likely.