Why Shares of Anthera Pharmaceuticals are Soaring

If you're looking at leaderboards, you're surely seeing Anthera Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ANTH) as one of the top performers listed on the NASDAQ or the NYSE in Wednesday trading action. The question is, there was no company news, so what gives?

The catalyst revolves around Anthera's Sollpura, a drug candidate licensed from Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) in 2014. Sollpura is a novel pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy for the potential treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency due to cystic fibrosis and other conditions.

Sollpura, which is the world's first soluble, stable and non-pig derived pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT), is being evaluated in a phase 3 study for non-inferiority compared to approved, porcine-derived, enteric-coated PERT when administered at individualized doses to patients with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency due to cystic fibrosis.

Top line data from the trial is expected in the coming weeks, which has biotech traders placing their bets on positive results based upon optimistic interim results.

Elsewhere, Anthera is developing blisibimod, an inhibitor of B-cell activating factor, which has been shown to be elevated in a variety of B-cell mediated autoimmune diseases, including Immunoglobulin A nephropathy (also known as Berger’s disease), lupus and others. Interim data from a phase 2 study has shown favorable trends as compared to placebo in proteinuria progression and pharmacological effects.

Putting gasoline on the fire, Roth Capital initiated coverage on the microcap biotech, including a price target of $10.00. Shares of ANTH closed on Tuesday at $1.69, representing an astounding upside of 491.7%. That may sound crazy, but it isn't, considering Citigroup has a "buy" rating and a $15 price target.

Last week, Zack's also upgraded ANTH to from a "hold" to a "buy" rating, although their price target was maintained at only $1.75.

Investors are excited about the new coverage and price target, sending shares of ANTH soaring 52.4% to $2.58 on record volume of over 32 million shares with an hour left in the trading session. Shares traded as high as $2.83 earlier in the day, marking the highest level for the long-time downtrending stock since last April.