Trading volume has been picking up quite noticeably over the past week or so for Titan Pharmaceuticals (TTNP), often a sign that news is pending or another catalyst is starting to materialize behind the scenes. In the case of Titan, the volume boost may have been attributed to an appearance in the Wall Street Journal last week, although it's debatable whether such an appearance would spark the continued run of buying we have seen.
News did hit the wires on Monday morning, however, providing another clue as to why volume may have spiked over the past week. According to Monday's press release, Titan has completed its pre-clinical studies that investigated "the feasibility of a long-term, round-the-clock, non-fluctuating dopamine agonist treatment for Parkinson's disease."
The potential treatment utilizes Titan's subcutaneous ProNeura drug-delivery technology, the same used for Probuphine, Titan's treatment for opioid addiction that is due to go before the FDA for approval later this year, and was funded primarily by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program that had previously been awarded to Titan.
The pre-clinical results were promising, according to comments made by Titan's President, Sunil Bhonsle, and representatives of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, who administered the studies. Mr. Bhonsle noted,
"We are pleased with the results and thank Dr. Bankiewicz and his colleagues for their collaboration on this study. We believe this program could be beneficial to the growing numbers of PD patients in the U.S. and around the world, and we will seek opportunities, as appropriate, to protect the intellectual property and advance this program in the future."
If those comments are to be taken at face value, then investors can expect a patent filing and the initiation of trials at some point in the (near?) future.
The question investors will consider today, though, is whether this tid-bit of news is responsible for the volume increase of the past week. Given that the news relates to a product that has not yet moved into the clinical stages, it's likely that the volume push originates from another source - one other than the Parkinson's press release. While the news is certainly promising as a validation of the ProNeura technology and the potential for it to be used in numerous applications - and advertises Titan as a company with a pipeline beyond just Probuphine - it's unlikely that today's itchy and impatient investor would significantly pick up his or her pace of buying based on the potential of a pre-clinical product.
There may be something else moving the trading volume, something more relevant to the immediate future of the TTNP share price. Candidates for the behind-the-scenes speculation could relate to a filing for Probuphine approval, a potential partnership, or even buyout talk. Monday's release does help to outline the potential value of ProNeura, should it reach its full potential in the controlled-drug-release market, but it's debatable as to whether such a volume spike would be justified on that news alone.
Something could be brewing again with Titan, there seems to be a lot of accumulation right around seventy cents, and quick moves have been known to materialize out of the blue with Titan; the next such move could have shares revisiting the dollar mark.
It's well worth watching this one develop.
Disclosure: Long TTNP.
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