Monday, March 09, 2009

Osiris Therapeutics (NASDAQ:OSIR): President Obama to Lift Stem Cell Research Ban; Osiris is Top Pick in Space - Piper

Piper is out pumping Osiris Therapeutics (NASDAQ:OSIR) as their favourite Stem Cell play this AM after speculation over the weekend President Obama is expected to lift the ban on the use of federal money for funding medical research with human embryonic stem cells at a White House ceremony at 11:45AM ET. The move reverses a 2001 policy enacted by former President Bush limiting federal funding to existing cell lines.

Piper notes they do not believe lifting the ban will have any immediate benefit for the majority of publicly traded stem cell companies since most federal research funding is directed at earlier stage projects carried out primarily in academic settings.

They further point out that the ban only applied to research on cells isolated from human embryos. A majority of publicly traded stem cell companies access stem cells from other sources.

That said, they view the move as a longer term positive for stem cell companies generally. In addition to lifting the research ban, the Obama administration has also increased funding for basic science research at the National Institute of Health (NIH) by $10.4 billion through the economic stimulus package.

Piper's top pick in the stem cell space remains Alpha List Osiris Therapeutics (OSIR), the leading adult mesenchymal stem cell play. Osiris has a busy 2009 with results from 3 pivotal trials for Prochymal. They believe Osiris is on track to file a BLA for Prochymal in refractory graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) late this year with approval likely by mid-2010.

Reiterate Buy rating, Alpha List rating and $27 price target for Osiris.

Notablecalls: Given how much the usual suspects (GERN; STEM; ASTM) are bid up in the pre mkt, I wanted to put this one in front of you as a possible pop candidate. Don't overstay your welcome, though.

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