Sangamo Surges to 13-Year High on HIV Therapy Results

Sangamo BioSciences Inc., a drug developer focused on gene editing, rose to its highest value in 13 years on studies showing its treatment may help patients control HIV without daily therapy, potentially curing them.

Sangamo jumped 17 percent to $22.96 at the close in New York, its highest price since Jan. 31, 2001. The shares of the Richmond, California-based company have more than doubled in the last year.

Sangamo’s technology seeks to mimic a rare, naturally occurring mutation to a gene called CCR5 that enables its carriers to control HIV without the daily pills that are a lifeline for most patients. In a study published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine, Sangamo’s experimental SB-728-T treatment helped produce levels of genetically altered cells associated with controlling HIV.

The results are a “massive validation” of Sangamo’s technology, said Edward Nash, an analyst with Cowen & Co. who has an outperform rating on the company’s shares. He said a big pharmaceutical company will be needed as a partner to help it advance the therapy to market.

“This is not something that’s around the corner from getting on the market,” Nash said in a telephone interview. “There’s a lot that still needs to be answered, but this is a major step forward.”

Safety Study

While the study of 12 HIV-infected patients was designed to assess the product’s safety, not its efficacy, researchers led by Carl June at the University of Pennsylvania found the treatment was associated with a drop in the amount of virus in some patients who were taken off their regular anti-AIDS drugs.

In a second study presented today at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, researchers said that SB-728-T enabled one patient to keep HIV at extremely low levels without treatment for 31 weeks.

If the patient’s viral level doesn’t rebound by 52 weeks the company would say he’s achieved a “functional cure,” said Edward Lanphier, Sangamo’s chief executive officer.

“We would certainly declare victory at a year and we’re at seven months now,” Lanphier said in a telephone interview.