What: After updating investors on the clinical trial progress for its cancer immunotherapy, shares in Juno Therapeutics (NASDAQ:JUNO) rallied 10.5% today.
So what: Yesterday, Juno Therapeutics reported additional clinical trial data for its chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy JCAR014 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual conference.
Specifically, the company reports that 100% of patients with relapsing or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) participating in a phase 1/2 study of JCAR014 saw a complete remission. Using flow cytometry, 94% of the 34 participants saw complete remission. Also, the company noted that median disease-free survival and overall survival had not been reached in the 18-month study period.
Juno Therapeutics also reported that 16 of 20 non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients responded to JCAR014, and that half had a complete response to the therapy.
Data was also released for a phase 1 study of Juno Therapeutics JCAR017 showing that 93% of pediatric and young adult patients with relapsing or refractory ALL witnessed a complete remission.
Now what: The trial data adds conviction to the thinking that CAR-T therapy could revolutionize patient treatment in B-cell cancers. Previously, Juno Therapeutics has said it plans to file for accelerated approval of another CAR-T, JCAR015, for use in B-cell cancers if mid-stage study data is positive.
These results add support to the thinking that those plans remain on track because JCAR014 and JCAR015 both work similarly and target the same CD19 protein expressed on B-cell cancer cells.
While these results help demonstrate the efficacy of CAR-T in this patient population, investors should know that Juno Therapeutics isn't a risk-less investment. Many patients who have taken the company's CAR-T therapies have suffered from cytokine release syndrome, a potentially life-threatening immune response. This syndrome can be controlled, but it's not clear how the FDA will view these serious adverse events.
Given these study results and the fact that Juno Therapeutics has plenty of cash on hand ($1.13 billion exiting March) and a deep-pocketed collaborator in Celgene Corp, this company remains one of the most intriguing clinical-stage companies in cancer treatment right now.