Shares of tiny San Diego-based OncoSec Medical ignited Wednesday morning when the microcap biotech reported that its lead drug produced promising Phase II melanoma data.
Researchers for the company say that a combination of their drug, ImmunoPulse IL-12, plus Keytruda (pembrolizumab) produced a 57% progression free response rate at 15 months among a small group of patients who were deemed “unlikely” to respond to a PD-1. They say there was a 100% (11/11) duration of response with no median PFS rate yet determined. And that builds on an earlier mark of a 41% complete response rate, which would be impressive if it continues to hold up.
OncoSec, which started the day with a market cap of only $37 million, saw its shares $ONCS rocket up 43% as word spread.
The strategy here is to take patients resistant to checkpoint therapy and match up an innate and adaptive immune system combo that can mount a more effective fight against cancer. Their drug is designed to trigger the expression of IL-12 in the tumor microenvironment, driving an immune attack while the checkpoint takes the brakes off immune cells.
The data — which arrive the day after biotech exec Daniel O’Connor was named CEO — will be detailed at the SITC meeting coming up this weekend.
“Overall, the Phase 2 trial results, including progression free survival beyond two years in multiple patients, duration of response, best overall response rate, and tolerability of the combination, provide a strong and consistent theme across multiple endpoints, underscoring the promise of ImmunoPulse IL-12 plus pembrolizumab as a viable treatment option for patients diagnosed with metastatic melanoma,” said Alain Algazi, the lead investigator.
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