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While the broad stock market has broadly been a sideways game so far in 2018, one area of the market that has continued to shine is the higher growth momentum side of the biotechnology space.

This is an area of the market that continues to exhibit genuine innovation and tremendous institutional interest given both the potency of the growth numbers being posted and the strong potential for big overnight gains due to rampant M&A activity at work in the space.

Today we’re going to break down three stocks that are currently in high momentum upward trends in that area of the market, and some of the main points to consider for investors and traders looking to take advantage.

Crispr Therapeutics AG (NASDAQ:CRSP), a gene editing company, focuses on developing transformative gene-based medicines for the treatment of serious human diseases using its regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats associated protein-9 (CRISPR/Cas9) gene-editing platform in Switzerland. Its lead product candidate is CTX001, which targets sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia with an ex vivo approach whereby cells are harvested from a patient, treated with a CRISPR/Cas9-based therapeutic and reintroduced into the patient.

The company is also developing CTX101, a donor-derived gene-edited allogeneic CAR-T therapy targeting CD19-positive malignancies. In addition, it is developing earlier stage allogeneic CAR-T programs targeting B-Cell maturation antigen and CD70; hemoglobinopathies to treat other diseases, including Hurler Syndrome and severe combined immunodeficiency disease; programs that are in preclinical development for indications, including glycogen storage disease Ia and hemophilia; and programs targeting diseases of organ systems outside the liver, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis.

It has a collaboration agreement with Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Incorporated Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Europe) Limited to develop, manufacture, commercialize, sell, and use therapeutics. The company also has research collaboration agreements with Neon Therapeutics for developing neoantigen-based therapeutic vaccines and T cell therapies; and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center to develop T cell therapies for cancer. CRISPR Therapeutics AG is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland.

This stock exploded higher at the end of 2017 and into this year. Shares blasted as much as 250% over the past 6 months, but have been consolidating a bit in recent action. With the gene-editing theme continuing to grip the imagination of the bigger dinosaurs in the pharma space, another run in front of some potential bids is not hard to imagine.

However, this is not what one might call an early-stage trend.


NUTRIBAND ORD (OTCMKTS:NTRB)
is clearly the more speculative play of the group here. But that is also the area of the market that tends to offer up the biggest home-run potential when these types of stocks work out. NTRB may be just an opportunity for less risk-averse investors and traders. And, by contrast to our first name above, this is quite possibly a very early stage if the trend persists.

 

The company operates in the health supplement market. Its product line consists of an Energy Patch line; a Weight Management supplement patch line; and a Multivitamin Patch line. The company offers its products through its Website. Nutriband Inc. was incorporated in 2016 and is based in Oviedo, Florida.

 

According to company materials, “Nutriband is a unique, result’s driven, health and pharmaceutical Company based in Orlando Florida. Unlike traditional health product companies, Nutriband found its start by spotting and targeting a gross and virtually unexplored niche in the supplement market through its method of ingredient delivery. All Nutriband products are based around the science of transdermal / Topical technologies.“

Quite simply, for those in this stock from earlier this year, NTRB has been a huge trading profits machine, with shares rising by more than 300% over the past few months. But, critically, volume has remained very constrained, which suggests the stock could possibly have much more upside ahead if the crowd discovers it in a big way.

 

One big point in its favor is the extremely tight float – sitting at just a tiny 2.3 million shares. That can cause, effectively, a supply shock squeeze if we see some traction build in the name in terms of trader popularity, buzz, or attention.

 

This is key when one notes that the stock has recently been uplisted to the higher tier exchange on the OTC, granting it access to more institutional investors and a wider audience.

 

Atara Biotherapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:ATRA) is an off-the-shelf T-cell immunotherapy company that has been a major momentum favorite so far in 2018.

The company develops treatments for patients with cancer, autoimmune, and viral diseases in the United States. Right now, these guys are developing tabelecleucel, an advanced T-cell immunotherapy that is Phase III clinical trials for the treatment of rituximab-refractory epstein-barr virus (EBV) associated post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder, as well as other EBV associated hematologic and solid tumors, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma. It is also developing ATA188 and autologous ATA190 that are in Phase I clinical trials for the treatment of multiple sclerosis; ATA520, a Phase I clinical trial product to treat Wilms tumor 1; and ATA230, which is Phase II clinical trials for refractory cytomegalovirus.

In addition, the company is developing ATA368 that is under preclinical development for HIV and cancers. It has license agreements with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Amgen, Inc.; and license, and research and development collaboration agreement with QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. The company was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in South San Francisco, California.

Shares of the stock have pulled back a bit over the past few weeks, possibly offering an opportunity for new bids coming in at the 50-day simple moving average, which crosses the chart right at its recent close, around $43.95/share.

 

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