May 7 (Reuters) - Shares in OvaScience Inc were up 8 percent on Thursday after the company announced the first birth of baby resulting from its experimental Augment fertility treatment.
The OvaScience technology is in its very early stages and has yet to be proven to work on a large scale or cleared by regulators for use in the United States. But Michael King, an analyst at JMP Securities in New York, said it does not appear to have any competition and could sell into a large overseas market.
“The birth of this child was an important milestone,” said King, who has a $53 12-month price target on the company’s stock and estimates it could have $1 billion in revenue by 2022.
In early afternoon trading, the stock was at $26.49 after trading up as much as 16 percent at $28.62 in heavy volume after the announcement and a Time.com story on the subject from Wednesday evening. However, the shares still were far short of their mid-March peak of $53.46.
OvaScience said its Augment fertility treatment was designed to enhance in-vitro fertilization by improving the health of a woman`s eggs.
The treatment draws on energy-producing mitochondria from a woman`s own immature egg cells found in the protective lining of the ovaries to supplement existing mitochondria in the eggs, it said.
One of the first patients who received the Augment treatment gave birth to a healthy baby boy in Toronto, Canada, the company said.
U.S. medical advisers have been weighing human studies on a related but different technology involving “three-parent in vitro fertilization (IVF)” that also uses mitochondria. ID:nL1N0LU2BW]
King noted that his revenue estimate is based on looking at the European and Japanese market. U.S. approval, he noted, would be “icing on the cake” but could potentially take years, if it happens at all.
The stock had fallen 55.6 percent from a peak close of $53.46 on March 24 to an intraday low of $23.75 after the company issued fertility data that was not as impressive as some investors hoped, according to King.
OvaScience said that one in six couples around the world have trouble getting pregnant naturally.
Reporting By Sinead Carew