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Ascendis Pharma A/S (ASND): Orbimed Advisors Takes Activist Stake in Newly Public Company

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Samuel Isaly’s Orbimed Advisors has taken an activist stake in the recently listed Ascendis Pharma A/S (NASDAQ:ASND), an early-stage drug company working on a novel method of delivering new and existing drugs to patients through a long-acting, time-released method. Orbimed revealed in a 13D filing with the SEC yesterday that they acquired a 6.1% stake in Ascendis shortly after that company’s IPO on January 29, consisting of just under 1.45 million shares.

Ascendis Phrama (ASND)

Orbimed Advisors is a large hedge fund and investment company with a focus on the healthcare sector. The fund employes over 80 people worldwide, with publiv and private investments totalling more than $14 billion. The fund was founded in 1989 by Isaly, who has a B.A. in Economics from Princeton University and a Master of Science degree in economics from The London School of Economics. The fund began making private investments in healthcare companies since 1993.

Ascendis Pharma A/S (NASDAQ:ASND) announced the closing of their 6.9 million share public offering on February 2, estimating net proceeds after fees of $111.5 million through the sale. The IPO share price of $18.00 is exactly what Ascendis enters the day trading at, climbing initially as high as $20.00 shortly after the IPO launched, before giving up those gains over the following days. Unlike many early stage drug companies, Ascendis is already generating some revenue, having earned $16.7 million in 2014, though they nonetheless reported a net loss of $2.4 million.

Ascendis Pharma A/S (NASDAQ:ASND) has a number of trials underway using their TransCon technology to deliver a line of long-acting, pro-drug therapies to patients, including peptides, proteins, and small molecules. The sustained-release formula delivers the treatments in a pure method, unaltered in their efficacy by the delivery process.

Ascendis Pharma A/S (NASDAQ:ASND) has a number of trials underway, including a recently initiated, Phase 1 single ascending dose study of TransCon Treprostinil, a treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension which is currently being sold under the brand names: Tyvaso, an inhalable solution of the drug, and Remodulin, an injectable sterile solution. Ascendis’ solution would only need to be injected once daily to offer the same efficacy as the latter treatment, without the elevated risk of infections or site pain.

In addition, Ascendis Pharma A/S (NASDAQ:ASND) has two ongoing trials for TransCon Human Growth Hormone. A phase 2 study for adults was recently completed, while a phase 2 study for children is ongoing, both of which have shown positive interim results. The once-weekly doses have shown the same efficacy as the active comparator Genotropin, which must be administered 49 times per week. The treatment is used to combat Growth Hormone Deficiency, an orphan (rare) disease that affects both children and adults, resulting in stunted growth, metabolic abnormalities, and cognitive deficiencies.

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