Shares of the clinical-stage cancer immunotherapy company Iovance Biotherapeutics (NASDAQ:IOVA) cratered today in response to a presentation at the H.C. Wainwright Global Investor Conference in New York City yesterday. What specific event triggered this downward spiral?
Investors apparently aren't thrilled with the company's clinical update for its mid-stage tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy, C-144-01, in patients with advanced skin cancer who have been previously treated with an anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA-4 checkpoint inhibitor. As of 2:29 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Iovance's shares were down by a whopping 27%.
The top headline here is that C-144-01 failed to produce an objective response rate on par with Bristol-Myers Squibb's (NYSE:BMY) combo therapy consisting of Opdivo and Yervoy for this indication (40% vs. 50%). Leading into this update, however, Wall Street was hoping that C-144-01 would prove to be a superior therapy to Bristol's cocktail. While it's still early days for C-144-01, this less-than-stellar result may force the company to rethink its clinical strategy.
On the plus side, this key clinical update only included a handful of patients (n = 10). So, the data might perk up as more patients are evaluated. Iovance also has a fairly broad pipeline assessing TIL therapies as both solo treatments, as well as in combination settings with various checkpoint inhibitors. This dramatic pullback, therefore, might turn out to be temporary in nature. Even so, this speculative biotech stock is still probably only well suited for investors comfortable with exceedingly high levels of risk.