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As the year draws to a close, Rick Duprey, writing for The Motley Fool, takes a look back at three biotechs that have quadrupled this year. 

Kicking us off, is Nektar Therapuetics, who focus on developing drugs for cancer, auto-immune diseases and chronic pain. Last month, the company, along with Bristol-Myers Squibb, revealed positive data following a Phase I/II trial of Nektar’s NKTR-214, with Bristol Myers’ Opdivo across several tumour types. 

Duprey suggests that one of the main reasons for their success is down to their stock doing so well. In July, Eli Lilly signed a collaboration deal with Nektar for NKTR-358, a therapy that increases T-cell production for treatments for a number of autoimmune diseases. 

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“Coupled with thus-far positive last-stage clinical results for other therapies and the potential for as much as $250 million more from Lilly for further advances with NKTR-358, Nektar Therapuetics could have a very bright future,” he explained. 

Next up we have Esperion Therapuetics, who focus on developing non-statin therapies for cholesterol. Last month, they launched a Phase III clinical trial of its bempedoic acid/ezetimibe combination pill in patients with hypercholesterolemia and athersclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD) and/or heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HeFH). 

With the company’s stock gaining 370% this year, Duprey said, “Favourable results for a triple combination of bempedoic acid, Zetia, and Lipitoralso helped push the biotech higher. In August, Esperion reported results from a mid-stage study that saw LDL cholesterol levels fall 64% from baseline levels among patients treated for six weeks with its triple-drug combo, compared with patients given nothing but a placebo.”

The company is hopeful that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will accept its New Drug Application (NDA) for the treatment based on the trial, with possible approval in 2019. The stock is currently trading for $60.63. 

Lastly, headquarted in Richmond, California, Sangamo, who develop therapies using genome editing techniques, are also seeing success. After treating their first patient in the Phase I/II trial of SB-913, and investigational in vivo genome editing therapy for individuals with mucopolysaccharidosis type II (MPS II), also known as Hunter Syndrome, their stock gained 377%. 

“Sangamo is using an older gene-editing tool, in which one inserts, deletes, or replaces DNA in a cell or organism,” commented Duprey. “Sangamo’s tool, called zinc finger nucleases, or ZFN, addresses rare bleeding disorders. While there are other more advanced gene-editing tools out there, Sangamo benefits because it has the most advanced pipleline of any of the biotechs focused on gene editing. Earlier this year, Pfizer agreed to pay Sangamo $70m up front for its rights to SB-525, a hemophilia candidate that earned a fast-track designation from the FDA.”