Why Prothena Corporation PLC Shares Leaped Higher

Prothena shares jump following an update on the progress of experimental Parkinson's disease drug PRX002. Can its shares head even higher?

Sean Williams
Sean Williams
Apr 9, 2014 at 2:02PM
Health Care

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 Prothena (NASDAQ:PRTA), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing antibodies for the treatment of diseases caused by protein misfolding or cell adhesion, jumped as much as 13% after issuing a press release last night updating investors on the progress of PRX002, its experimental Parkinson's disease therapy.

So what: According to its press release, Prothena notes that it has dosed its first patient in a phase 1 double-blind dose-escalating study of PRX002. As per the norm for phase 1 studies, it's designed to test the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of PRX002. In addition, since it successfully initiated this study and dosed the first patient Prothena is now entitled to a $15 million milestone payment from collaborative partner Roche (NASDAQOTH:RHHBY). As noted in the press release, Prothena, with its latest $15 million milestone payment, has earned $45 million from Roche with regard to PRX002's development thus far.

Now what: On one hand we have shareholders clearly excited that all of Prothena's hard work is finally paying off into actual clinical studies. We also have a mammoth global pharmaceutical giant in Roche partnered with Prothena, and lending hope that there may indeed be substance behind its lofty valuation. Then again, we have to keep in mind that this is merely the initiation of a phase 1 study -- or to make a baseball analogy, the first batter of the game just stepped to the plate. There's a long way to go before PRX002 should even remotely be on investors' radars. You'll also want to keep in mind that the ultimate success rate of Parkinson's disease therapies is pretty low. With that in mind, I'm perfectly happy sticking to the sidelines and watching Prothena from afar.