Shares of Celldex Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:CLDX) a clinical-stage biotech developing targeted cancer therapies, fell 22% in October, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. A mid-stage clinical success wasn't encouraging enough to lift the stock amid overall negative sentiment surrounding the biotech industry.
Leaked emails highlighting the Clinton campaign's intentions to criticize drugmakers in order to distinguish her candidacy was a heavy weight on biotech stocks last month. The industry-tracking iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology index fell 11.5% in October, and volatile clinical-stage companies, such as Celldex Therapeutics, took it on the chin.
Without the dark cloud of political uncertainty hovering over its industry, Celldex's announcement of a clinical trial success might have lifted the stock. The company's lead candidate glembatumumab vedotin, or glemba, hit its main goal in a study with patients in final stages of skin cancer.
The company set the bar at six or more objective responses in the first 52 patients enrolled. Hitting the mark with seven confirmed responses and three unconfirmed responses among 62 patients aren't the sort of results that lift stock prices during an industrywide downturn.
Celldex Therapeutics is running another trial with triple-negative breast cancer patients whose tumors express glemba's target, gpNMB, on the surface of their tumors. It already showed a highly significant benefit in this group extrapolated from a larger breast cancer trial. Repeating previous results would probably be plenty to support an application to treat this specific, underserved patient population.
The melanoma trial isn't a terrific win on its surface. When you take into consideration 61 of 62 patients had stage 4 skin cancer, and a majority had progressed following three or more lines of treatment, the results suggest glemba has a shot in more than one indication.
Celldex has expanded the advanced skin cancer trial with glemba to include treatment with one of its in-house clinical-stage immuno-oncology candidates, varlilumab. Although glemba in triple-negative breast cancer is this biotech stock's single largest potential catalyst, the glemba plus varlilumab cohort, plus a recent acquisition of two more clinical-stage candidates gives this biotech's investors a cornucopia of data readouts to look forward to in the quarters ahead.
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