What happened

After orchestrating a 15-1 reverse stock split to meet Nasdaq listing requirements last week, Advaxis (ADXS -3.22%) saw its shares rally 13.8% by 3:15 p.m. EDT following updated results from a trial evaluating its ADXS-PSA in prostate cancer. 

So what

The phase 1/2 study is evaluating ADXS-PSA alongside Merck's (MRK -0.25%) multibillion-dollar blockbuster Keytruda in heavily pre-treated patients with progressive and refractory metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Letters shooting out of a megaphone held in a person's hand.

Image source: Getty Images.

The two-part trial includes an ADXS-PSA monotherapy arm and a combination arm. The combination data reported today showed that using the two therapies together resulted in a median overall survival rate of 21.1 months. The study's author, Dr. Mark N. Stein, said the data "compare favorably to standard-of-care therapy and to study results from similar unselected patient populations with bone-predominant disease."

The results were presented on Monday as part of a poster discussion at this year's American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting. 

Now what

ADXS-PSA is an immuno-oncology therapy that uses a listeria vaccine to deliver antigens to cancer cells to spark an immune response. The use of ADXS-PSA with Keytruda may help the immune system better spot and destroy cancer cells because Keytruda inhibits cancer's ability to hijack a mechanism that prevents the immune system from attacking it.

More research is necessary to confirm ADXS-PSA's effectiveness and safety, but the results are encouraging, particularly since Advaxis investors have endured a steady decline in share price since 2017. Given the amount of work left to be done and the company's high-risk track record, investors might be best served waiting until later-stage data is reported before jumping in and buying shares.