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Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ONXX), NewLink Genetics Corp (NLNK): Two Diversified Biotechs to Watch After Impressive ASCO Data

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Big Pharma gets the headlines at ASCO, but smaller up-and-coming biotechnology companies also produce breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer. Let’s see which two biotechs made their presence known at this year’s ASCO.

Expanding a Growing Well-Diversified Cancer Fighting Drug

Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ONXX) is a $7 billion biotechnology company that has seen gains of 115% over the last year. The company has three approved drugs – all in the treatment of cancer – and has a strong partnership with Bayer.

Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ONXX)

The company’s most promising product is Nexavar, currently approved for both liver and kidney cancer, a drug that has produced sales of almost $900 million in 2012. In addition to Nexavar’s current indications, the company is testing the product in four clinical studies, with one being thyroid cancer.

At ASCO, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ONXX) presented stellar Phase 3 results for Nexavar in the treatment of thyroid cancer – the most aggressive form of the disease – if approved it will face almost no competition in the market. In the Phase 3 study, Nexavar slowed progression of thyroid cancer by five months compared to placebo. Thus, the primary endpoint was met, and the company will now seek regulatory approval.

What’s encouraging about Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ONXX) is that Nexavar is already approved for two different types of cancer, and is widely used among oncologists. An approval for thyroid cancer is all but a slam dunk, and currently it is a huge unmet need in the treatment of cancer. Therefore, I would anticipate sales growth from Nexavar sooner rather than later.

In recent months, analysts have already reported that Nexavar is seeing some off-label use for thyroid cancer – but now after reporting positive data, I expect that physicians will begin using the drug for the disease on a regular basis. As a result, I’d watch Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ONXX) closely, as it further commercializes and expands this well-diversified cancer fighting drug.

Solidifying the Potential of HyperAcute at ASCO

NewLink Genetics Corp (NASDAQ:NLNK) has seen a one-month 23% gain, leading up to ASCO. NewLink Genetics Corp (NASDAQ:NLNK) is a $400 million company with an advanced pipeline in the treatment of cancer, including six current studies.

At ASCO, the company announced Phase 2 data on its lung cancer drug tergenpumatucel-L, a single agent that is being used to salvage chemotherapy efficacy in previously treated patients. The study included 28 previously treated patients with metastatic or recurrent non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

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