Heat Biologics managed to at least temporarily extricate itself from penny stock territory after offering a positive update on its combination study for non-small cell lung cancer. Its stock surged more than 20% this morning based on an update for a handful of patients taking a combination of HS-110 and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo.
The updated snapshot from the Durham, NC-based biotech included a note that 3 of 5 patients enrolled in a cohort for low tumor infiltrating lymphocytes “experienced significant tumor reduction, which is higher than the 10% response rate of low TIL patients reported for existing data on nivolumab alone.” 5 of 12 evaluable patients experienced an immune response to the combo.
As a result Heat’s stock $HBTX nosed above the $1 mark.
Heat has experienced repeated setbacks that ground down its share price. Last spring, the biotech cut staff. Then in the fall their drug HS-410 failed a mid-stage study for bladder cancer. The company currently has a micro market cap hovering around $24 million, putting it in a very vulnerable group. And Nasdaq issued a delisting warning just a few days ago.
“Checkpoint inhibitors, such as nivolumab, are currently effective in treating approximately 10% of lung cancer patients with low TIL and about 20% of patients overall in the 2nd line setting,” said Jeff Hutchins, Heat’s top scientist and SVP, Preclinical Development. “Our results appear to further validate the expected mechanism of action of our approach in combination with checkpoint inhibitors, with a continuing trend towards early and sustained T cell activation in the peripheral blood cells.”
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