Mast Therapeutics (MSTX) Jumps on Positive MST-188 Data

Joel Anderson |

Shares in Mast Therapeutics (MSTX) jumped on Monday following the presentation of data showing that its lead therapy MST-188 reduced the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) by 50 percent for blood collected from individuals with sickle cell anemia at the 8th Annual Sickle Cell Disease Research & Educational Symposium in Miami.

Shares opened up 10.9 percent at $0.61 apiece and through the first 45 minutes of trading amidst a strong day for the markets and biotechs in particular. Shares peaked at $0.67 before giving back gains and settling at its opening price by 1 pm ET.

ESR is a common laboratory test used to measure the rate at which red blood cells travel through anti-coagulated blood. The test was an ex vivo study conduted at the Loyola Marymount University Medical Center.

Mast Therapeutics is developing treatments from its molecular adhesion and sealant technology (MAST) platform. From the website: “MST-188 binds to damaged membranes, restoring the cell’s natural, hydrated, non-adhesive surface. This aborts dysfunctional inflammation & thrombosis and directly contributes to improved blood flow and reduced tissue ischemia.”

The demonstration of the effectiveness of its lead technology was big news for the small-cap biopharma.

"Patients suffering vaso-occlusive crisis experience an inflammatory state where cells, proteins, and other molecules increasingly adhere to each other and blood vessel walls, resulting in physical 'log jams' that obstruct blood flow, cause severe pain, and accelerate organ damage and failure,” said Dr. Martin Emmanuele, Ph.D., reacting to   “Reducing RBC aggregation may be integral to restoring normal blood flow to tissue.  The data from this study are consistent with observations in prior studies that MST-188 decreases blood viscosity and RBC aggregation and improves microvascular blood flow, and supportive of the potential for MST-188 to shorten the duration of sickle cell crisis."

Mast shares took off in early January when previous laboratory data on MST-188’s effectiveness was released. Since then, the stock has been in a lengthy down channel. However, a look at the technical data on the stock show that there’s likely other factors contributing to today’s bounce.

The 14-day RSI for Mast fell below 30.0 yesterday, and the 14-day stochastic RSI has been below 0.20 for most of the month of March, both signs the stock is oversold. What’s more, the stock had fallen low enough to hit its 200-day SMA, a barrier that could be significant to technical traders.

These factors in addition to the positive laboratory data are likely combining to help push the stock higher.

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