- The stocks of dozens of cancer drug developers shifted in value Thursday as investors got the first glimpse at clinical trial data set to be presented later this month at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting, a top event for the field.
- Allogene Therapeutics appeared a clear winner, with shares in the biotech rising by nearly 30% on early signs its "off-the-shelf" cancer cell therapy could be effective in treating lymphoma. The preliminary data seemed to also help Cellectis, which originated some of the technology used by Allogene and saw shares climb 15%.
- But for a number of other drugmakers, including Arcus Biosciences, Arvinas and Macrogenics, the release of study abstracts by ASCO sent shares sliding.
ASCO's annual meeting is oncology's largest conference, a forum for the presentation of hundreds of cancer drug studies and a proving ground for companies seeking to showcase their research. It's a critical event, therefore, for investors in cancer biotechs and larger pharmaceuticals companies alike.
But much of the market trading happens several weeks before the actual meeting, which will be held virtually this year due to COVID-19. That's when the meeting organizers release online thousands of study abstracts detailing some of the results that will be featured at ASCO.
Wednesday's release of abstracts included the first substantive look at Allogene's donor-derived CAR-T treatment for lymphoma, as well as the first data for a new type of cancer immunotherapy that Roche is betting on heavily. Updated data from a CAR-T therapy being developed by Johnson & Johnson, meanwhile, suggested Bristol Myers Squibb and Bluebird bio have a potential competitor to their multiple myeloma treatment ide-cel, now delayed by the Food and Drug Administration.
Allogene's 20% jump now values the company at more than $5 billion, adding more than $1 billion to its market value.
The results from Roche, meanwhile, showed its experimental drug tiragolumab could boost the effectiveness of its approved immunotherapy Tecentriq, but fell short of high expectations held by some investors. In response, shares in Arcus Biosciences and Compugen, both of which are developing drugs that work similarly to tiragolumab, fell by double digits in Thursday morning trading.
Shares in Arcus, noted analysts at SVB Leerink, had increased steadily up until Wednesday in anticipation of the tiragolumab results, which now provide a benchmark for the smaller company's development efforts.
High expectations also seemed to trip up Macrogenics, shares of which fell by 10% Thursday after release of early-stage data for two of the company's experimental cancer drugs, MGD013 and MGC018.
Study abstracts contain only limited summary information and often come from a data cut-off that happened months prior, making them only a limited view of results that will be presented in full at the meeting.
Still, clues of limited efficacy or signs of potential side effects can spur significant swings in the value of biotech developers.
Shares in Arvinas, for example, fell by almost 15% Thursday after a study abstract of the company's prostate cancer drug ARV-110 showed signs of liver problems in two patients. Those side effects may have been triggered by another therapy trial participants were taking, however.