Shares of preclinical biopharma Immunomedics (NASDAQ:IMMU) gained over 14% today without any company-specific news. However, earlier in the day, the nearly $12 billion buyout of Kite Pharma by Gilead Sciences was announced, which lifted many stocks working on chimeric antigen receptor T cells, or CAR-T, biotherapeutics.
What does that have to do with antibody developer Immunomedics? Well, the company back in February 2017 did announce preliminary results from a preclinical trial that demonstrated the ability of certain of its checkpoint inhibitor antibodies to increase the potency of T cells.
As of 2:45 p.m. EDT, the stock had settled to a 13.7% gain.
This is certainly about as indirect of an association Mr. Market could possibly conjure up. While there's no specific link to CAR-T therapies for Immunomedics' February announcement, and the results were only from a small preclinical trial, traders don't seem to be taking any chances.
The novel bispecific antibodies, or bsAbs, from Immunomedics were shown to increase the potency of T cells. That is, the local environment of cancer tissues secrete various molecules that attempt to deactivate and throw off T cells, which are the workhorse of the body's immune system. Even if immunotherapies are successful at first, mutations in the tumor can gradually lead to more resilient cancers and less effective T cells. It remains a significant problem for novel immunotherapies, and solutions have remained elusive.
On paper at least, the technology could be paired with novel CAR-T therapies that are making their way down the industry's pipeline.
Some traders are thinking that Immunomedics' proprietary technology that has demonstrated the ability to selectively overcome T cell deactivation in the tumor microenvironment could become a must-have tool for the future of the CAR-T space. The Gilead Sciences deal this morning shows that interest in cell therapies remains high and that we're only beginning to scratch the surface of what's possible. However, until more material developments occur, investors shouldn't take too many leaps when dreaming of blockbuster deals for Immunomedics.