The Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) has done well recently, pushing to new record levels. The index kept up its momentum on Tuesday, rising just over 0.1% as of 12:30 p.m. EDT.

The Nasdaq is known for innovative companies, and a couple of biotech stocks got a lot of attention on Tuesday. Cerevel Therapeutics Holdings (NASDAQ:CERE) got a nice push higher, but investors in Sensei Biotherapeutics (NASDAQ:SNSE) weren't as fortunate. Below, you'll get the details on both biotechs.

Row of researchers in a lab, with one looking at microscope.

Image source: Getty Images.

Cerevel serves up an early win

Shares of Cerevel were up 95% at midday on Tuesday after having more than doubled earlier in the session. The biotech company had good news from one of its key candidate treatments.

Cerevel announced positive results in its early-stage clinical trial of schizophrenia treatment CVL-231. The Cerevel treatment produced statistically significant improvements in a common scoring system for patients suffering from the disease compared to those who received a placebo. CVL-231 also produced encouraging safety and tolerability data that should be valuable in later-stage trials of the treatment.

The company was pleased with the results. Cerevel's chief scientific officer sees the results as supporting the broader idea that targeted therapy for certain muscarinic receptors could work as a viable treatment for schizophrenia. At the same time, the executive sees the potential to avoid major side effects of other types of treatments for the disease.

Cerevel came public less than a year ago through a SPAC merger with Arya Sciences Acquisition. With the stock far above anywhere it has traded since then, Cerevel is now firmly on the radar for biotech investors across the market.

A disappointment for Sensei

Shares of Sensei Biotherapeutics moved the other way, falling more than 15%. Investors weren't pleased to learn of the immunotherapy specialist's strategic reprioritization of its treatment pipeline.

Sensei made the decision to shift its priority to its current product candidates, which include the ImmunoPhage treatment SNS-401-NG and the monoclonal antibody SNS-VISTA. By doing so, it hopes to stretch its available cash to cover costs through the first half of 2024.

Unfortunately, what that means is that Sensei will no longer continue its SNS-301 program. After analyzing clinical activity and data specific to the single-antigen treatment, Sensei believes that it has drawn as much insight as it can from its first-generation candidate. Further action from Sensei should come shortly, with SNS-VISTA studies coming by the end of this year and SNS-401-NG getting further attention in the second half of 2022.

Sensei just came public in early February through an IPO that generated considerable interest. Investors were excited by the hope of personalizing cancer medications to treat disease more effectively, and Sensei sold 7 million shares at $19 per share to IPO investors. First-day excitement sent the stock as high as $26.50 per share, but those gains proved short-lived, and the stock has moved steadily lower ever since. It now stands at less than half its IPO price.

The biotech industry is full of winners and losers, and it's a high-risk area that can produce huge gains when things go well and massive losses when they don't. Sensei's future seems more in doubt after today's news than it was before, but investors are taking a closer look at what Cerevel might have to offer over the long run.

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