Today’s Research Reports on Stocks to Watch: Nektar Therapeutics and Merck & Co.

Nektar shares closed lower on Monday as the company is presenting new preclinical data for its immuno-oncology programs at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2018. Shares of Merck were sailing higher on positive clinical trial results of its Keytruda with chemotherapy.

RDI Initiates Coverage on:

Nektar Therapeutics

Merck & Co., Inc.

Nektar Therapeutics shares closed down 7% on Monday on about 7.1 million shares traded. The company announced over the weekend that it would announce new preclinical data for its immuno-oncology programs at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2018. The company said it would be releasing new preclinical data on NKTR-214, a CD122 biased agonist, and NKTR-262, a novel toll-like receptor agonist, by company researchers and collaborators. Chief Scientific Officer as well as Senior Vice President of the company, Jonathan Zalevsky, Ph.D. remarked, "The preclinical studies being presented at AACR by both Nektar scientists and our collaborators highlight the potential of NKTR-214 as a backbone therapy in immuno-oncology. NKTR-214 is designed to stimulate the number and functional activity of cancer-fighting T cells which are often limited in patients with cancer and necessary for immunotherapy to be fully effective. These data show that NKTR-214 synergizes with multiple modalities including TLRs, HDAC and ACT. With regard to TLR biology, the combination of NKTR-214 and NKTR-262 engages both the innate and adaptive immune system to initiate antigen release, expand T cells and drive them into the tumor. This novel immuno-oncology combination is now being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 study."

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Merck & Co., Inc. shares closed up 2.59% yesterday on about 22.5 million shares traded. The stock was soaring in the green after the company released late-stage clinical trial results that revealed a cancer drug combination that uses its blockbuster drug Keytruda had reduced patients’ risk of death by 51%. The company was making headlines as Immunotherapy Keytruda along with chemotherapy had significantly improved the overall survival in newly-diagnosed patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. The results were released the same day Bristol-Myers Squibb also released positive lung cancer data for its immunotherapy combination however shares of Britsol plummeted on the news. According to Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan, "Merck appears to be the clear winner so far." According to Divan, the Merck data was better than expected across all patient subgroups, while questions remain about Bristol’s Opdivo and Yervoy combination "until we see full data."

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Our Actionable Research on Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NKTR) and Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK) can be downloaded free of charge at Research Driven Investing.

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