What happened

Adaptimmune Therapeutics (ADAP -7.50%), a clinical-stage cancer specialist, is having another off day today. Specifically, the biotech's shares are down by 16.8% as of 10:55 a.m. EDT Friday morning. For the week, Adaptimmune's stock is now down by over 20%.

What's behind this sudden downturn? Earlier today, Adaptimmune announced the early release of an abstract for an upcoming presentation at the virtual Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer conference on Nov. 11, 2020. While the abstract implies that the company's SPEAR (Specific Peptide Enhanced Affinity Receptor) T-cell therapy, ADPA2M4CD8, may sport anti-tumor activity in both head and neck cancer, as well as esophagogastric junction cancer, investors apparently wanted even more from this next-generation cell therapy.

Two cancer cells dividing.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Adaptimmune is attempting to pull off a rather difficult feat with its SPEAR T-cell pipeline. Namely, the biotech is trialing T-cell therapies as game-changing treatments for solid tumors. It's important to understand that T-cell therapies have yet to show much in the way of efficacy outside of the realm of liquid tumors. 

Adaptimmune's novel oncology pipeline targeting solid tumors, in turn, clearly represents a high-risk, high-reward proposition for investors. Investors, for their part, are rightfully eager to have some form of clear-cut evidence that this unique approach will indeed pay off. Today's data release -- at least in the eyes of some -- seemingly didn't scratch that itch.     

Now what

The somewhat odd part of this story is that the abstract in question only contained prelimary data for five patients. Investors arguably shouldn't be drawing any conclusions -- good or bad -- from such a limited data release. So, if you're the risk-tolerant type, it might be worth picking up a few shares of this beaten down biotech stock today.