Antigenics announced on Monday the expansion of an ongoing Phase II glioma trial for Oncophage (vitespen/HSPPC-96). The trial will enroll up to fifty patients and will be expanded based on the encouraging safety and survival results seen so far.

Oncophage is a personalized cancer vaccine, meaning a sample of the patient's tumor is used to create an 'antigenic fingerprint' that is then used to produce the vaccine. Similar to Dendreon's Provenge, this type of cancer immunotherapy treatment is what the CEO of Cel-Sci Geert Kersten recently refered to as the "first generation" of cancer vaccines - the personalized vaccine. The second wave, according to Mr. Kersten, includes his company's product - Multikine - from the 'off the shelf' variety, meaning that vaccine personalization is not necessary.

Now progressing smoothly in the Phase II glioma trial, Antigenic's Oncophage was also approved in Russia back in April of 2008 for the treatment of kidney cancer, although the product was denied approval by regulators in Europe for the same indication. There's been little - if any - progress reported from Russia regarding the approval there, although a recent Internet report discusses the plight of Doctor's in that country who are ready to provide the treatment but are fighting against the might of large pharma - who have the money to ward off any threat of a new product by a smaller, unknown company. In the US, we generally perceive our own politicians as being 'on the take' from the pharmaceutical giants, but in Russia it's just a fact of life. Money talks. Period. It's possible that a heavy lobby by Doctors in Russia could push Oncophage to the point of widespread use, but we've just got to wait and see as Putin his eyes set on more glamorous goals than watching a novel product from an American company thrive on his soil.

In addition to the positive development in the glioma trial, and possible movement on the Russian front, Antigenics has a vaccine adjuvant, QS-21, being used in multiple Phase III product candidates by partner GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

There's still a lot of long term potential tied up in this sub-$1 stock, and investors who were along for the Dendreon (DNDN) ride can attest to the types of moves that cancer vaccine stocks could experience on positive Phase III results and approval, but the glioma trial is still just a Phase II with Phase III a ways away.

Once the European denial of Oncophage came into play, AGEN became a long term accumulation play, in my opinion, but because of the glioma possibilities and royalties that should start rolling in for QS-21 before too long, it's a pretty good one.

Disclosure: Long AGEN.

Add a Comment