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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 CodeName3-month price changePrice 0903Market Cap
SRX SIRTEX MEDICAL 0.77036627.5751539336064
PME PRO MEDICUS 0.0997418.49877390976
MSB MESOBLAST 0.3159851.67837632832
NAN NANOSONICS 0.0390632.75796125376
SPL STARPHARMA HOLDINGS -0.0249111.36507638112
VLA VIRALYTICS 1.7016131.675466090336
PNV POLYNOVO 0.2409640.535336760032
NEU NEUREN PHARMACEUTICALS 0.1142863.07317738656
BNO BIONOMICS 0.1898730.49226736016
RVA REVA MEDICAL INC - CDI-0.4453130.34146422656
AXP AIRXPANDERS INC-CDI-0.3043480.475138172320
OPT OPTHEA -0.1283780.645130636680
ELX ELLEX MEDICAL LASERS -0.1428570.83120624952
PXS PHARMAXIS 0.2941180.33105526856
OSP OSPREY MEDICAL INC-CDI-0.3589740.2584877048
CYC CYCLOPHARM 0.1489361.0873714664
PVA PSIVIDA CORP-CDI-0.0419161.672411200
OSL ONCOSIL MEDICAL -0.1515150.1467888384
AHZ ADMEDUS -0.1186440.2966246840
CMP COMPUMEDICS -0.0675680.34561121216
IMM IMMUTEP 0.0416670.02459983228
AVH AVITA MEDICAL -0.1230770.05759929952
BLT BENITEC BIOPHARMA -0.0256410.1938977120
ACW ACTINOGEN MEDICAL 0.0888890.0536612484
UCM USCOM 0.6666670.26534284540
OIL OPTISCAN IMAGING -0.1460670.07832769588
OCC ORTHOCELL -0.259740.28531339812
GSS GENETIC SIGNATURES -0.06250.331178082
PBT PRANA BIOTECHNOLOGY -0.2058820.05728830140
ITD ITL HEALTH GROUP -0.2386360.33528660034
ACR ACRUX 0.0689660.15525810866
LBT LBT INNOVATIONS -0.3191490.1623804856
DXB DIMERIX 0.1340.1420931668