Shares of Immunocellular Therapeutics (IMUC) were flying fast on Thursday.
A strong close pushed the share price to over the three dollar mark, effectively setting a new 52-week high at $3.22. Thursday's trading action tagged IMUC with the 'triple' stamp since early January when a financing deal sent shares south, only to quickly rebound when new institutional interest was discovered to have taken up a significant position in the company.
Needless to say, the quick triple marks some very significant gains and underlines the attention that this company's pipeline is receiving.
Success to date has been based on Immunocellular's flagship product, ICT-107, a treatment for the very aggressive form of brain cancer. Results from early trials had the investing circuits and medical professionals talking at a time when Dendreon (DNDN) was receiving acclaim for bringing the first FDA-approved cancer immunotherapy to market with Provenge.
What set IMUC aside from Dendreon, however, was the fact that the company's technology of attacking cancer stem cells as a method to prevent the growth and spreading of cancer came with some logistical and manufacturing advantages that could alleviate the pricing and reimbursement troubles that had Dendreon limping through the last half of last year.
Pair the early pipeline success with the potential cost advantages, and it's understandable why many in the investment community were, and are, buzzing over IMUC.
This week the company took another step in cementing its place as a potential major player in the science of cancer immunotherapy.
In a licensing deal with the University of Pittsburgh, Immunocellular has acquired world-wide exclusive rights to certain intellectual properties that will be used to expand the company's pipeline into the treatment of ovarian and pancreatic cancers. Immunocellular also retains the rights for this technology in uses against brain cancer.
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
According to Thursday's press release, "The Company will employ the Pitt intellectual property in the development and commercialization of ICT-140, a multivalent, dendritic cell-based vaccine for the treatment of ovarian cancer."
Immunocellular plans to quickly launch into the development of ICT-140 and intends to file an Investigative New Drug application for the treatment in the fourth quarter of this year.
The development of another major pipeline product eliminates the 'one trick pony' tag that some investors are wary of when deciding whether or not to throw money at a speculative biotech.
To date, the more cautious investor may say, should ICT-107 hit a road bump in development, the company does not have another product in clinical trials in the treatment of indications outside of glioblastoma on which to fall back on.
That should change later this year as Immunocellular brings ICT-140 into trials.
Having multiple product candidates in the works also solidifies the company's place as a potential major player in the cancer immunotherapy arena and definitely could make it more attractive a buyout candidate to potential suitors.
It's no secret that big pharma is on the prowl for new pipelines as popular money-makers come off patent in droves, and IMUC's pipeline potential just got a little bigger.
Big enough to spark a 12% price spike into the close on Thursday.
Disclosure: Long IMUC.
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