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It was an historic day for the future of cancer treatment when the FDA approved Dendreon's (DNDN) Provenge for the treatment of prostate cancer just over one year ago. It opened the doors to a new age in the treatment of cancer and shareholders delighted alongside victims of prostate cancer patients who had long been looking for an alternative to the harsh side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

When the approval news hit, shares of DNDN touched the north side of fifty dollars, after having traded in the threes just a year earlier, before retreating back to the current forty dollar level.

The Dendreon story, through trial and tribulation, set the stage for other companies striving to bring similar vaccines to market. The warm welcome received by Provenge on the open market is a demonstration that cancer immunotherapy treatments are gaining widespread acceptance throughout the patient and medical communities.

While cancer immutherapy treatment is still in its relative infant stages, it's not too early to enter into the conversation the next generation of treatments, which are currently working their way through the pipelines of a few small companies as I type.

That's where Immunocellular Therapeutics (IMUC) comes into play.

Immunocellular sees the technology behind Provenge as a starting point, but takes it a step further in that its own immunotherapeutic technology attacks the stem cells behind the growth and spreading of cancer.

This unique approach has been put to the test in a successful Phase I trial where 100% of the 16 patients administered Immunocellular's potentially ground-breaking ICT-107 were still alive after one year, and 80% after two in the treatment of the very aggressive brain cancer glioblastoma (GBM).

The positive results were overwhelming enough to warrant the quick transition to a Phase II trial, which commenced earlier this year. Full enrollment for the Phase II is expected to be reached early in 2012 with results rolling out the following year.

The Phase II was originally planned for 15 sites, but an announcement by Immunocellular last week stated that more than 20 sites will be available for enrollment.

With the new trial just gearing up, the company went back and took a look at a longer-term follow-up to the completed Phase I.

According to a press release issued by Immunotherapeutics earlier last month, "The data show 6 out of 16 (37.6%) newly diagnosed patients who received ICT-107 continue to show no tumor recurrence, with 3 of these patients (18.8%) remaining disease –free for almost four years while the other 3 patients have gone more than two and a half years disease-free. No new patients have shown disease recurrence since the last report of data in September, 2010. No treatment-related serious adverse events have been observed to date."

Keep in mind that 16 patients is not enough to judge whether a treatment will garner FDA approval or not, but these Phase I results are extremely encouraging, and should the Phase II look as promising, then IMUC shareholders should be ready for some significant price appreciation.

As Dendreon proved with the Provenge approval, a successful cancer immunotherapy company could be considered the 'holy grail' of the biotech world, and that may be part of the reason why IMUC has tripled in price over the past year.

The early successes and long term potential of ICT-107 have not gone unnoticed.

In addition to the increased analyst and sotck coverage directed towards Immuncellular, CBS News in New York featured the product in a segment titled “Vaccine Could Kill Brain Tumors Using Body’s Own Immune System.”

Dr. Joseph Landolfi, a clinical investigator at New Jersey Neuroscience Institute, highlighted in the segment that 80% of the patients tested with ICT-107 have experienced, thus far, a two-year survival rate.

News coverage such as that by CBS is priceless for a small company looking to make a name for itself, but it helps when the company's lead product candidate can produce results that itself, as does ICT-107.

The game plan doesn't stop with glioblastoma.

Clinical trials for recurrent GBM and ovarian cancer are being readied for commencement at the end of 2011. While the treatment of GBM is the focal point of development, being in the most advanced stage of development than any other treatment, Immuncellular's technology holds significant potential in treating multiple cancer types, as the company looks to prove with the ovarian trial.

In addition to the improved technology behind targeting cancer stem cells, Immunocellular has also improved the manufacturing and logistical process behind administering the treatment.

Patients being treated with ICT-107, according to reports posted at the Immunocellular website, need to have their dendritic cells harvested only once, when compared to the three times that is needed for Provenge treatment.

The reduction in associated manufacturing and logistical costs with the potentially more efficient Immunocellular process could be translated into lesser costs for patients, making it a more attractive option for governments and insurance companies to cover.

Another development to keep an eye on is the potential up-listing of IMUC to a major exchange. Such a move would legitimize the company in the minds of investors who are hesitant to jump in on a OTCBB stock, and it could attract some larger funds and institutional investors that have restrictions placed upon them regarding the buying of OTC shares.

In order to boost its inherent value and fund the future pipeline development, IMUC is always on the lookout for deals that could accomplish one or both of those goals. A recently-announced agreement with BioWa fits that bill, as IMUC gained access to BioWa's patented POTELLIGENT technology platform. In turn, Biowa gains access to some of IMUC's antibody technology and "selected option rights to IMUC antibodies using the POTELLIGENT Technology," according to the press release announcing the agreement.

This deal looks to be mutually-beneficial for both entities, and IMUC will receive equity in a new company - Caerus Discovery - that is backed by BioWa and will combine the two technologies.

Given the potential of ICT-107 in the glioblastoma market, which is a multi-billion dollar market in itself, and the potential for Immunocellular to develop similar treatments for multiple indications, IMUC is a cancer immunotherapy company to keep on the radar.

Should the ongoing Phase II trial results prove to be as encouraging as the Phase I data were, then it should be expected that IMUC will be trading for prices much closer to, or higher than, the $5 and $7 price targets that are out there at the current time.

Before the approval of Provenge, cancer immunotherapy was not yet an accepted form of treatment, but that products quick acceptance by patients and professionals has greatly validated the new era of cancer treatment.

Additionally, Amgen's (AMGN) deal to acquire the privately-held BioVex is another indication that big pharma is ready to bite, making every small company out there like Immunocellular a potential acquisition target.

This company has already been a big winner for 2011, and there still might be more to come. For those with a longer-term outlook, a buy at the current trading levels just might be a buy into the ground floor of the next generation of cancer immunotherapy treatment.

As always, each investor should conduct his or her own DD and invest accordingly.

Disclosure: No position.

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