BioLineRx ltd. (NASDAQ: BLRX) is headed up in the pre-market hours this morning after the company announced news surrounding a collaboration with Merck & Co (MRK). Of course, the news excited investors, sending the stock on a run for the top. Today, we’ll talk about:
- The collaboration news;
- what we’re seeing from BLRX as a result; and
- what we’ll be watching for ahead.
BLRX Heads Up On Expanded Collaboration
As mentioned above, BioLineRx is having a great start to the trading session in the pre-market hours this morning. The gains are ultimately the result of an expanded collaboration announcement. In a press release issued early this morning, the company announced the expansion of its immuno-oncology collaboration with Merck & Co. The collaboration surrounds support fo a Phase 2a program investigating the company’s candidate, BL-8040 in combination with Merck’s KEYTRUDA® in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer.
In the release, BLRX said that under the expansion, a triple combination arm investigation surrounding the safety, tolerability and efficacy of BL-8040, KEYTRUDA and chemotherapy will be added to the ongoing COMBAT/KEYNOTE-202 study. This particular arm of the study will focus on second-line pancreatic cancer patients. Of course, regulatory approval will be required to conduct the additional arm of the study. The study is planned for initiation in the fourth quarter of this year. In a statement, Philip Serlin, CEO at BLRX, had the following to offer:
We are very excited to report the expansion of our immuno-oncology collaboration with Merck and the inclusion of an additional arm in the COMBAT/KEYNOTE-202 study. The decision to investigate the combination of BL-8040 and KEYTRUDA, together with chemotherapy, stems from the encouraging results we have seen in the trial… These results continue to demonstrate the safety and tolerability of BL-8040, as well as validate its mechanism of action, namely that BL-8040 mobilizes immune cells into the peripheral blood, promotes T-cell infiltration into tumors, and has an effect on immuno-suppressive cells.
In light of this, the addition of cytotoxic chemotherapy may be synergistic with the existing combination, due to the fact that besides helping to reduce the overall tumor burden, chemotherapy induces immunogenic cell death, thus leading to activation and expansion of new tumor-reactive T cells. Based on its demonstrated mechanism of action, BL-8040 should facilitate the infiltration of these T cells into the tumor core, alongside the restoration of T-cell activity within the tumor by KEYTRUDA. We look forward to presenting results from the dual combination arm of BL-8040 and KEYTRUDA in the COMBAT/KEYNOTE-202 study later this year, and expect to present results from the new triple combination arm of the study in the second half of next year.
What We’re Seeing From The Stock
One of the first lessons that we learn when we start to dig into the market is that the news causes moves. In the case of BLRX, the news proved to be overwhelmingly positive. Of course, an additional arm to the study opens the door to possible approval in a triple combination setting. So, it’s no surprise that excited investors are sending the stock on a run for the top. Of course, our partners at Trade Ideas were the first to alert us to the gains. Currently (8:48), BLRX is tradinga t $0.91 per share after a gain of $0.057 per share or 6.68% thus far today.
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What We’ll Be Watching For Ahead
Moving forward, the CNA Finance team will continue to keep a close eye on BLRX. In particular, we’re interested in following the story surrounding the company’s continued work to bring BL-8040 to market in combination with Merck’s KEYTRUDA. Nonetheless, we’ll continue to follow the story closely and bring the news to you as it breaks!
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