Juno Therapeutics (JUNO) Nosedives On Phase III Complications

Juno Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: JUNO)

Shares in Juno Therapeutics are trading sharply lower, down to $21.28 (over 29%) in early trading(10:19am). The early losses represent a decline in market value of over $1 billion dollars since 9:30 this morning.

What The….Happened To Juno?

On Wednesday, JUNO announced that there were serious and concerning complications with its phase II trial of JCAR015. Additionally, JUNO has placed a voluntary hold on the trial after two patients suffered cerebral edema and died earlier in the week. This brings the death toll for this trial to five.

The JCAR015 drug is a cancer fighting compound designed to use a patients own immune system to fight the disease. With the two recent deaths, the question stands as to whether the drug has shown enough promise, especially when compared against the safety data, to expect a return to the trial any time soon.

Three patients died from side effects of the same drug in July. With five patients now deceased from apparent JCAR015 side effects, JUNO has contacted both the FDA and the Data Safety and Monitoring Board to determine how to move forward. The news today comes after the FDA allowed JUNO to resume the trials back in July after the three original deaths.

What Now?

JUNO is trading close to its 52-week low of $19.41 and is far from its high of $52.41 per share. The news today is a devastating blow to investors as well as to patients that were relying on a new platform to emerge to treat cancer.

JUNO is exploring the benefits of utilizing a CAR-T platform, which takes the patients own T-cells and genetically engineers them to recognize and combat disease. With five deaths and a second hold being placed on the trial, JUNO is at a crossroads.

Is the science behind their CAR-T program at fault? or is science, in general, the culprit? CAR-T has been demonstrating high hopes for providing therapeutic treatment and a potential cure, and several companies are delivering meaningful results.

Therefore, while JUNO may be suffering a huge setback in their CAR-T trials, the science is advancing without the same concerns by other developers.

For JUNO investors, this news is staggering. Whether or not JUNO can respond to the setback remains to be seen, and investors should pay close attention to company comments regarding the trial and its future, especially if those comments call in to question the CAR-T program at the company.

Disclosure: I have no position in any stock mentioned and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself and it includes my own research and expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from CNA Finance). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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