ZymoGenetics, Immunomedics shares rise on HGS lupus data

The prospect of a new lupus drug hitting the market after decades without a new treatment for the autoimmune disease obviously has Human Genome Sciences investors excited--the company's stock has soared more than 200 percent since the announcement. But HGS isn't the only one benefiting from the positive late-stage data on the company's lupus drug candidate Benlysta. ZymoGenetics, a partner on the lupus drug Atacicept and Immunomedics, which also has a lupus drug, have both seen their stock rise.

"It does validate the pathway and makes it more likely that our drug will be a success," ZymoGenetics spokeswoman Susan Specht told Dow Jones. The biotech's drug candidate may actually turn out to be a better candidate than Benlysta, as Atacicept blocks an additional key protein that Benlysta does not, Specht added.

Investors are starting to pay attention: ZymoGenetics's stock has risen 13 percent on the HGS news. But the company still has a bit of a climb. The developer's stock nose dived last October after its partner, Merck Serono, halted a mid-stage trial for systemic lupus erythematosus. Patients involved in the study were found to be at high risk for infection, which ZymoGenetics believed was caused by other therapeutics that were being given in conjunction with Atacicept.

ZymoGenetics gave up the development and marketing rights to the lupus drug back in September, but is still entitled to royalties from Merck Serono for net sales in North America, as well as royalty and milestone payments outside of the United States, the Wall Street Journal reports.

- read the Journal article