Shares of Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE -9.21%) were skyrocketing 38.5% as of 12:24 p.m. EST on Wednesday. The huge gain came after the biotech announced positive preliminary results on Tuesday evening from its phase 1b study evaluating its COVI-MSC in treating COVID-19.
The fortunes of small biotech stocks like Sorrento depend on good results from clinical studies of their pipeline candidates. And the results announced last night for COVI-MSC, its experimental stem cell therapy, were very good.
Sorrento reported that the first three patients enrolled in its phase 1b study of COVI-MSC were discharged from the hospital within only one week of beginning infusions of the experimental therapy. These patients previously suffered from acute respiratory distress (ARD) or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) caused by COVID-19.
The company said that one of the patients had been in the hospital for three weeks before receiving COVI-MSC. Another of the patients had been previously discharged but had to be readmitted because of a recurrence of ARD. These patients and a third patient in Sorrento's study improved rapidly after infusions of COVI-MSC.
It's important to keep in mind, though, that these results are very early and only include a small number of patients. There's no guarantee that COVI-MSC will deliver such great results in a larger group of patients.
Sorrento hopes to advance COVI-MSC to a controlled phase 2 study. In the meantime, the company is seeking Emergency Use Authorization for its COVI-STIX antibody test for COVID-19, and is evaluating several other potential coronavirus therapies in clinical studies.