NEW YORK – The GenomeWeb Index rose nearly 7 percent in December, ending 2020 on a high note and continuing the positive trend it exhibited in September, October, and November.
The index outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq, and the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, which rose 3 percent, nearly 6 percent, and 4 percent, respectively, in December. Individual stock performances in the GenomeWeb Index were largely positive last month, as 28 of the 37 stocks saw gains and only nine saw losses.
Pacific Biosciences led the gainers in December with a 64 percent increase in share price, followed by Castle Biosciences (+41 percent) and NanoString Technologies (+35 percent).
Burning Rock Biotech led the decliners in December with a 19 percent drop in stock price. Invitae (-16 percent) and Veracyte (-10 percent) rounded out the list of decliners for the month. This was Burning Rock's second consecutive month in the list of bottom-three decliners. The company’s shares dropped 8 percent in November. Veracyte, on the other hand, had led the gainers in November with a 57 percent increase in share price.
PacBio's shares rose steadily throughout December. In the middle of the month, the company announced initial findings from a research collaboration with Laboratory Corporation of America focused on SARS-CoV-2 and the related immune response to COVID-19, which was first announced in April.
The two firms are collaborating to develop a production-scale assay for sequencing the complete genome of thousands of SARS-CoV-2 viruses from de-identified positive patient samples using the PacBio Sequel II System. LabCorp has generated more than 6,500 high-resolution complete genomes from SARS-CoV-2-infected people, the companies said, and the partners have integrated long-read sequencing data generated by the Sequel II System with additional phenotypic information collected by LabCorp.
Castle Biosciences' stock rose in December after the company received coverage from Medicare Administrative Contractor Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation for its DecisionDx-Melanoma test. That decision followed Palmetto GBA's expanded LCD for molecular diagnostic tests used to help in risk stratification for melanoma tests. Noridian and CGS Administrators aligned their coverage with Palmetto's earlier this year.
Castle also priced a public offering of 4 million shares of its common stock at $58 per share, expecting $232 million in proceeds. The firm said it has no specific plan for the proceeds but might use the funds to advance its product pipeline, support its currently marketed products, or pay amounts owed under its loan agreement.
And NanoString revealed a new platform that it claims can provide subcellular resolution for RNA and proteins in tissue samples. In a presentation for investors and Wall Street analysts, NanoString officials touted the new spatial molecular imager (SMI), an instrument that uses the firm's proprietary Hyb & Seq chemistry for in situ analysis of at least 1,000 RNAs and, theoretically, the same number of proteins.
There was no solid news accounting for Burning Rock’s decline last month. The company announced it is exclusively licensing Oncocyte's DetermaRx lung cancer test in China. Oncocyte will receive cash payments after transferring and installing its DetermaRx technology and will receive ongoing royalties per patient tested with DetermaRx.