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Why Ziopharm Oncology Shares Rose 10.5% on Wednesday

What happened

Shares of Ziopharm Oncology (NASDAQ: ZIOP) jumped by 10.8% on Wednesday. The clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company is examining non-viral T-cell receptor therapies (TCR-T) to fight cancer. Its shares closed on Tuesday at $0.8553, then opened Wednesday at $0.8770, climbing to a high of $0.95 before falling back a bit in the afternoon, closing at $0.8961 on Wednesday.

The stock was trading at its 52-week low on Friday of $0.8500 and had been on a relatively steady decline since it reached $5.95 on Feb. 10. It is down more than 75% over the past year.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

There are two reasons for Ziopharm's climb. First, it's a reaction to hitting its 52-week low as investors saw a potential bargain. The other was the news that the company had begun recruiting patients for its phase 1/2 study of Ziopharm's Sleeping Beauty TCR-T platform as a therapy to fight non-small cell lung cancer, colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, and cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer). The company, which reported only $398,000 in collaboration revenue and a loss of $22.7 million in the third quarter, needs something to excite investors, and the beginning of these trials at least is a positive step.

Now what

That the biotech company was forging ahead with its clinical trial wasn't exactly a big shock, as it has said it planned to begin dosing patients in the trial this month. However, the fact that Ziopharm has been able to follow through was enough good news to rouse the stock from its 52-week low. Bear in mind that with a market cap of only $193.45 million, it doesn't take much to move the needle on the stock for the positive or negative.

Investors will want to see other positive signs before buying more shares. It's hard to get too excited about the start of a clinical trial that isn't expected to finish until 2025. Another concern for investors is the possibility the stock could be delisted from the Nasdaq in the future as it has closed below $1 every day this month since Jan. 5.

Clinical-stage biotech companies are, by their nature, risky investments. The lure for many investors is to get into such a stock when it is cheap and then benefiting if it is able to get a therapy to market. At this point, Ziopharm has $91.7 million in cash and may need additional funding from licensing partners to get one of its therapies to the finish line.

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Jim Halley has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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