Biotech stocks have had a mixed start to the year — with about half of the 40 stocks tracked by Stockhead enjoying gains.

Scroll down for a table showing how 40 ASX-listed biostocks have performed this year.

But the sector has outperformed the Small Ordinaries index so far this year with a solid stream of newsflow from international mergers and landmark discoveries.

Last week ovarian cancer tester Bard1 Life Sciences (ASX:BD1) as much as trebled it share price on news of additional positive results for its non-invasive test.

Shares in the company opened at 0.1c on Monday, reached highs of 3.1c and settled to 2.6c at Friday close.

Similarly, Immuron (ASX:IMC) started the week at 27c and reached intra-day highs of 60c, to close at 39c.

The company claimed a “world first” when its oral treatment reduced inflammation for patients with fatty liver disease.

“I see all the recent activity as the real coming of age of good Australian biotechs and they are leading the way for more innovative Australian companies to follow,” biotech daily editor David Langsam told Stockhead.

“Global big pharma and med tech players know that Australia can do some of the world’s best science and our research per capita is some of the best in the world.”

Early on, Mr Langsam analysed companies such as Ademus (ASX:AHZ) with high hopes and a product for patching humans with cow hearts — now, its ADAPT technology has received regulator approval for human use in North America.

February’s $500 million Viralytics (ASX:VLA) deal has been one of the sector’s key successes this year.

“Making developments for cancer treatment is particularly difficult, which is why Viralytics is such a big shining light for the industry,” Mr Langsam said.

“Not only is it a drug, but it specifically targeting cancer — big pharma is no longer impressed by just curing cancer in mice, so convincing Merck is a bid deal.”

3-month performance of Aussie biotechs in comparison to the ASX small ords. Source: Bloomberg.
3-month performance of Aussie small to mid cap biotechs in comparison to the ASX small ords. Source: Bloomberg.

In a research note released earlier this year, advisory firm Wilson’s named its top contenders for the next merger or acquisition – Telix (ASX:TLX) Opthea (ASX:OPT)Anatara Lifesciences (ASX:ANR) and Oncosil Medical (ASX:OSL).

Further pushing the trend of Australians to develop the technology behind treatment rather than drugs themselves.

“It is much easier to develop a device or a diagnostic rather than a drug for the simple fact that adding a monitor externally is far less risky that putting a drug inside of someone,” Mr Langsam said.

“Historically, the wins in Australia have been those of devices and diagnostics, our long-term failure has been drug development.”

Here’s a table showing how 40 ASX-listed biostocks have performed this year.

ASX Code Name 3-month price change Price 0903 Market Cap
SRX SIRTEX MEDICAL 0.770366 27.575 1539336064
PME PRO MEDICUS 0.099741 8.49 877390976
MSB MESOBLAST 0.315985 1.67 837632832
NAN NANOSONICS 0.039063 2.75 796125376
SPL STARPHARMA HOLDINGS -0.024911 1.36 507638112
VLA VIRALYTICS 1.701613 1.675 466090336
MVP MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS INTERNA 0.178187 7.705 453275680
CUV CLINUVEL PHARMACEUTICALS 0.1125 8.8 424843520
PNV POLYNOVO 0.240964 0.535 336760032
NEU NEUREN PHARMACEUTICALS 0.114286 3.07 317738656
BNO BIONOMICS 0.189873 0.49 226736016
RVA REVA MEDICAL INC - CDI -0.445313 0.34 146422656
AXP AIRXPANDERS INC-CDI -0.304348 0.475 138172320
OPT OPTHEA -0.128378 0.645 130636680
ELX ELLEX MEDICAL LASERS -0.142857 0.83 120624952
PXS PHARMAXIS 0.294118 0.33 105526856
VHT VOLPARA HEALTH TECHNOLOGIES 0.2 0.72 104755048
TLX TELIX PHARMACEUTICALS -0.15 0.5 100693128
OSP OSPREY MEDICAL INC-CDI -0.358974 0.25 84877048
CYC CYCLOPHARM 0.148936 1.08 73714664
PVA PSIVIDA CORP-CDI -0.041916 1.6 72411200
OSL ONCOSIL MEDICAL -0.151515 0.14 67888384
AHZ ADMEDUS -0.118644 0.29 66246840
CMP COMPUMEDICS -0.067568 0.345 61121216
IMM IMMUTEP 0.041667 0.024 59983228
AVH AVITA MEDICAL -0.123077 0.057 59929952
UBI UNIVERSAL BIOSENSORS INC-CDI -0.1875 0.25 45889624
BLT BENITEC BIOPHARMA -0.025641 0.19 38977120
ACW ACTINOGEN MEDICAL 0.088889 0.05 36612484
UCM USCOM 0.666667 0.265 34284540
OIL OPTISCAN IMAGING -0.146067 0.078 32769588
OCC ORTHOCELL -0.25974 0.285 31339812
GSS GENETIC SIGNATURES -0.0625 0.3 31178082
FTT FACTOR THERAPEUTICS -0.2 0.044 29201712
PBT PRANA BIOTECHNOLOGY -0.205882 0.057 28830140
ITD ITL HEALTH GROUP -0.238636 0.335 28660034
ACR ACRUX 0.068966 0.155 25810866
LBT LBT INNOVATIONS -0.319149 0.16 23804856
DXB DIMERIX 0.134 0.14 20931668