Top 5 NASDAQ Biotech Stocks

The NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (INDEXNASDAQ:NBI) has traded at three-year highs in the first half of 2024 in response to looming interest rate cuts, breakthrough innovations and increased deals in the space.

After dropping to a low of 3,637.05 in October 2023, the index climbed to start 2024 at 4,457.02. It did hit a bump in the road early in Q2 when it plunged to 4,056.3 in April, but it quickly recovered and has since tracked even higher, reaching 4,634.21 on June 24. But while the current economic environment means the biotech sector may have a complex road ahead, robust growth could be in store in the future.

According to a recent report from Precedence Research, the global biotech market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.8 percent from now to 2033, reaching a valuation of US$4.25 trillion.

Driving that growth will be favorable government policies, investment in the sector, increased demand for synthetic biology and a rise in chronic disorders such as cancer, heart disease and hypertension.

The top NASDAQ biotech companies have seen sizeable share price increases this past year. For those interested in investing in biotech companies, here are the top gainers outlined below.

Data was gathered on July 8, 2024, using TradingView’s stock screener, and all NASDAQ biotech stocks had market caps between US$50 million and US$500 million at that time.

1. Elevation Oncology (NASDAQ:ELEV)

Company Profile

Year-to-date gain: 416.67 percent; market cap: US$152.17 million; share price: US$2.79

Elevation Oncology’s focus is on developing cancer therapies targeting a range of solid tumors. The company’s oncology pipeline is based on its expertise in antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) and includes lead candidate EO-3021, which is designed to target solid tumors associated with gastric, gastroesophageal junction, pancreatic or esophageal cancers.

In April, Elevation presented preclinical data demonstrating proof-of-concept for its HER3-ADC program targeting solid tumors, including breast cancer, EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer.

In late June, Elevation announced the expansion of its ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial for EO-3021 to include two combination cohorts evaluating the drug for the treatment of advanced gastric or gastroesophageal junction cancer. This expansion will see the company evaluating EO-3021 in combination with Eli Lily’s (NYSE:LLY) ramucirumab, a VEGFR2 inhibitor, in second-line patients, and in combination with GSK’s (LSE:GSK) dostarlimab, a PD-1 inhibitor, in the front-line setting.

Elevation Oncology’s share price reached the highest point in 2024 on March 1, hitting US$5.01. While it’s no longer at that peak, the company’s stock is still up considerably from the start of the year.

2. Candel Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CADL)

Year-to-date gain: 287.92 percent; market cap: US$171.69 million; share price: US$5.77

Candel Therapeutics is another NASDAQ biotech company focused on developing oncology treatments. The company’s pipeline includes two clinical stage multimodal biological immunotherapy platforms.

Candel’s lead product candidate CAN-2409 is in a Phase 2 clinical trial in non-small cell lung cancer and borderline resectable pancreatic cancer, as well as Phase 2 and 3 trials for localized, non-metastatic prostate cancer. Positive interim data for the trial on pancreatic cancer, released on April 4, sent the company’s share price spiking upwards.

Its second lead product candidate is CAN-3110, which is in an ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial in recurrent high-grade glioma (HGG).

The company has had a number wins with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so far this year. In February, Candel’s CAN-3110 received regulatory approval for a fast track designation for the treatment of recurrent HGG. The agency also granted Candel orphan drug designation for CAN-2409 for the treatment of pancreatic cancer in April and CAN-3110 for HGG in May.

This NASDAQ biotech stock has had an excellent second quarter this year. After spiking on positive interim trial data for CAN-2409 in April, it continued climbing to hit a year-to-date high of US$14.00 on May 15.

3. Benitec Biopharma (NASDAQ:BNTC)

Year-to-date gain: 201.25 percent; market cap: US$90.58 million; share price: US$9.67

California-based Benitec Biopharma is advancing novel genetic medicines via its proprietary “Silence and Replace” DNA-directed RNA interference platform. The company is currently focused on developing therapeutics for chronic and life-threatening conditions including oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD). Its drug candidate BB-301 was granted orphan drug designation by the FDA and the European Medicines Agency.

In April, Benitec reported positive interim clinical trial data for its first OPMD subject treated with BB-301 in its Phase 1b/2a study. Following the report, Benitec’s share price began trending upward, and reached its highest point in 2024 on May 20 when it hit US$10.47. The company expects to report additional interim safety and efficacy data in the second half of the year.

4. Eliem Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ELYM)

Year-to-date gain: 151.11 percent; market cap: US$452.81 million; share price: US$6.78

Eliem Therapeutics is undergoing a transformation this year following the acquisition of private biotech firm Tenet Medicines in June. Going forward, Eliem’s focus will be on developing therapeutics for autoimmune-driven inflammatory diseases. Its lead product candidate is now TNT119, an anti-CD19 antibody targeting a range of autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus, immune thrombocytopenia and membranous nephropathy.

Eliem has also completed a US$120 million private placement bringing its total cash and cash equivalents of approximately US$220 million. The company says its planned operations are now sufficiently funded into 2027, and expects to initiate Phase 2 clinical trials of TNT119 this year.

Eliem is another NASDAQ biotech stock that had a great second quarter this year, posting a year-to-date high of US$10.20 on May 7.

5. Cardiol Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CRDL)

Year-to-date gain: 128.77 percent; market cap: US$129.03 million; share price: US$1.87

Biopharma company Cardiol Therapeutics is developing novel treatments for inflammation and fibrosis in cardiovascular conditions, including pericarditis, myocarditis, and heart failure.

The company has two drug candidates in its pipeline: CardiolRX, an orally administered cannabidiol under clinically studied for use in rare heart diseases, including recurrent pericarditis and acute myocarditis; and CRD-38, a drug formulation of cannabidiol that is administered subcutaneously for treating heart failure.

The FDA granted CardiolRx orphan drug designation in February. Cardiol released positive top-line results in mid-June for its Phase 2 open-label pilot study investigating the safety, tolerability and efficacy of CardiolRx in patients with recurrent pericarditis. The company believes the results will support moving the drug to Phase 3 clinical trials.

The positive news flow contributed to the strong momentum the stock has enjoyed this year, leading to a year-to-date share price high of US$2.91 on June 12.

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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