Shares of Immunogen soared as much as 68% on June 1, 2015 after the company reported positive results in patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. There are about 21,290 cases of women who get ovarian cancer in the United States each year. The problem is that a lot of these patients that take chemotherapy treatments such as platinum and paclitaxel become drug resistant in their disease. These patients from the trial obtain an ovarian cancer that is platinum-resistant and newer treatment options become a necessity.
These positive results were presented at the 2015 American Society For Clinical Oncology — ASCO — which took place in Chicago from May 29, 2015 to June 2, 2015. Immunogen’s drug is known as mirvetuximab soravtansine, and was developed to help treat these patients with this form of platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. Before taking Immunogen’s drug though patients had to take a cycle of treatment of standard of care — typically both taxane and platinum together.
This trial recruited up to 22 patients in total but these positive results only showed 17 patients. The reason for this discrepancy in efficacy for only 17 patients being evaluated is because this ASCO abstract had to be submitted many months before this presentation and the remaining 5 patients had not gone through the entire treatment cycle at that time. The results showed that Immunogen’s drug was able to show an overall response rate of 53%. That means that on average patients saw a 53% reduction of their ovarian cancer tumor. The next step now for Immunogen is to advance this compound into a phase 2 clinical trial and pending additional positive results long-term shareholders will continue to be rewarded.
Regulus Therapeutics (NASDAQ:RGLS)
Shares of Regulus Therapeutics fell as much as 16% on June 2, 2015 because there was a press release stating that George C. Xanthopoulos would be resigning as the company’s CEO and President effective immediately. Although Regulus doesn’t have a successor as of yet they have temporarily put the previous Chief Medical Officer of Regulus, known Paul Grint, in charge until a more suitable CEO can be found. Xanthopoulos stated that he is leaving Regulus because he is pursuing investment opportunities in the biotechnology industry.
It seems a little fishy that the CEO would depart now when Regulus is set to release data on its microRNA drug RG-101 that treats Hepatitis C as a possibility for a 4-week therapy. It is always bad to speculate but is it really a huge coincidence that Xanthopoulos would depart now when so called amazing results are about to be released for Hepatitis C? Especially when the potential for a 4-week therapy treatment could overcome the likes of Gliead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) or Achillion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ACHN).
I think that investors should be aware of the facts before deciding to invest in Regulus Therapeutics. The fact is that Xanthopoulos co-founded a previous biotechnology company known as Anadys Pharmaceuticals. That’s not the bad part though, the bad part is that a few weeks before bad news came out Xanthopoulos left the company to join a venture capital firm. A few weeks after his departure from the company it was announced that Anady’s Hepatitis C drug was halted due to safety concerns.
Although even to this day Xanthopoulos states that prior to his departure he had no clue about the Hepatitis C safety problems. It is a huge coincidence that Xanthopoulos is yet again leaving a company he founded just prior to pending Hep C results before the end of 2015. Maybe it is a coincidence? Or maybe it isn’t? The point being is that investors should tread cautiously if they are thinking about investing in Regulus.
Opko Health (NYSE:OPK) & Bio-Reference Laboratories (NASDAQ:BRLI)
On June 4, 2015 Opko Health announced that it would acquire Bio-Reference Laboratories $1.47 billion dollars. This transaction amount converts to approximately $52.58 per share of BRLI stock. Bio-Reference laboratory is third largest clinical laboratory in the United States with full services in genomics and genetic sequences.
According to the terms of the deal Bio-Reference Laboratories shareholders will receive 2.75 shares of Opko common stock per each share of BRLI stock. This deal is expected to close upon the approval by BRLI shareholders and is expected to close sometime this year. The acquisition of Bio-Reference was probably due too many reasons but the main reason is probably because Opko wanted to obtain a new sales force to be able to increase sales of its 4kscore diagnostic test.
This 4kscore diagnostic test is a blood test produced by Opko to test a patient’s personalized risk score for prostate cancer. Opko has been doing pretty well with its 4kscore blood test because it currently has had use by approximately 900 plus Urologists. Opko shares were up about 7% on this positive news, but it seems that Bio-Reference Laboratories investors were more excited for this deal. This is because shares of BRLI were up as much as 36% the very same day. Opko Health has been acquiring many companies and it seems to keep wanting to build a large pharmaceutical company with tremendous long-term value.