While Dendreon (DNDN) made history by being the first company to receive an FDA approval for an immunotherapeutic cancer treatment with Provenge, Immunocellular Therapeutics (IMUC.OB) looks to usher in the next generation of such treatments. Immunocellular may even be able to do the technology behind Provenge one better, as the process behind administering IMUC's treatment holds some logistical advantages over Dendreon's.
These logistical advantages, which are chiefly attributed to the reduced need for multiple cell "harvestings" from a patient during treatment, could potentially alleviate the growing pains experienced by Dendreon in terms of Provenge pricing and reimbursement. Simply put, the reduced need for multiple cell harvestings should ultimately lead to more attractive pricing for IMUC's treatments than for Dendreon's Provenge and other similar products.
Shares of IMUC flew to over two dollars for a time in 2011, mainly based on the potential of ICT-107, a potentially ground-breaking immunotherapeutic treatment for glioblastoma (GBM), a very aggressive form of brain cancer. ICT-107 has already proven to be very successful in Phase I, and interim results from an ongoing Phase II should start trickling in within the year.
From the two dollar mark, however, shares quickly retreated from those highs as financing concerns entered the picture and investors saw that Phase II results were not quite imminent. The retreat in price dropped the company's market cap to well under fifty million, hardly justifiable for a pipeline that holds a potentially game-changing technology and was heavily validated in early trials.
That said, the tide could be shifting again. With a new spotlight on the sector, and with financing concerns now out of the way, IMUC could be shaping up for another revival.
Cancer immunotherapy stocks are again in the spotlight following the rejuvenation of Dendreon and rebounding Provenge sales, and the anticipated financing deal for IMUC which for months weighed heavily on the share price is now out of the way.
Investors are now free to look towards the expected Phase II trial results. Should those results come with the similar success of the Phase I trials, there's little doubt that a new round of investor interest would come the way of IMUC. Developing companies in the sector tend to run during the lead-in to such results, as well, so it's not out of the question to expect that another speculative move to the upside could be in store for this year, similar to last year's run.
Additionally, with big pharma more on the prowl right now than Lindsay Lohan at a New Year's Eve party, IMUC could also benefit from the occasional buyout speculation that has been dominating the industry these days.
Short sellers usually take advantage of a company's small cap share price right around the time that financing deals are announced, but even with the significant price drop that accompanies such events, the longs are often times left with a nice buying opportunity with an eye towards the longer term.
With trial results due within the year, and with a novel technology behind a potentially ground-breaking new treatment, don't expect IMUC to remain dormant for long.
Disclosure: Long IMUC.