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Stock To Watch: Atara Biotherapeutics (ATRA)

Atara Biotherapeutics Inc. (ATRA) has some key milestones lined up for this year, making it a stock worth watching.

Atara is focused on developing off-the-shelf, allogeneic T-cell immunotherapies for patients with cancer, autoimmune and viral diseases.

The Company's lead T-cell immunotherapy in development is Tabelecleucel, or Tab-cel (formerly known as ATA129).

Tab-cel is under phase III testing for the treatment of patients with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) associated post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (EBV+ PTLD). The Company expects to initiate a Tab-cel biologics license application submission for patients with EBV+ PTLD in the second half of 2020.

In a bid to enable opening clinical sites for Tab-cel trial in the European Union this year, the Company submitted clinical trial applications (CTA) to several European countries last November.

A phase I/II clinical study of Tab-cel in combination with Merck's KEYTRUDA in patients with platinum-resistant or recurrent EBV-associated nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is underway.

Enrollment in phase II multi-cohort study of Tab-cel in patients with other EBV+ cancers is expected to begin in the second half of 2020.

Next up in the pipeline is an off-the-shelf, allogeneic ATA188 for the potential treatment of multiple sclerosis.

A phase Ia study of ATA188 in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis is ongoing. The safety and early findings from this trial were presented last September. The Company expects to present six- and twelve-month clinical results for cohorts 3 and 4 of the phase Ia trial of ATA188 in the first and second halves of 2020, respectively.

Enrollment in phase Ib study of ATA188 in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis is expected to be initiated in the second or third quarter of 2020.

Atara is also developing a mesothelin-targeted autologous CAR T (ATA2271) for patients with advanced mesothelioma, with an IND planned in the second or third quarter of 2020.

As of September 30, 2019, the Company's cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments totaled $282.9 million.

ATRA has traded in a range of $10.38 to $41.97 in the last 1 year. The stock closed yesterday's (Feb.10) trading at $14.37, up 9.03%.

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