WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – BlackRock, Inc., one of the world’s largest investment firms, has increased its ownership stake in Targacept (Nasdaq: TRGT), according to a regulatory filing.

The biopharmaceutical firm is to announce its latest quarterly earnings after the markets close Thursday.

Also this week, Targacept announced two additional trials of separate drug candidates.

According to an SEC filing, BlackRock has increased its holdings in Targacept to 1.8 million shares, or 6.56 percent of the company.

Before the filing, BlackRock was listed as holder of some 1.2 million shares, according to Yahoo! finance.

Targacept shares traded at $27.35 at midday Thursday.

Based on Thursday’s price, BlackRock’s investment is worth some $48 million.

Read the SECF filing here.

Drug trials launched

In other news, Targacept said it is launching a Phase II clinical trial of a potential treatment for asthma and another for Type 2 diabetes. Both involve Targacept’s TC-6987 compound.

Read the details here.

Also, targacept and its drug development partner AstraZeneca have begun a Phase II-B trial of compound TC-5214 as a potential treatment of major depressive disorder.

Read the details here.

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