Cancer has typically been treated by either radiation, surgery, drugs. But Novocure (NASDAQ:NVCR) has developed a fourth paradigm, tumor treating fields, which can inhibit the growth of tumors by inhibiting tumor cell division. In this video from Motley Fool Live, recorded on Jan. 4, Corinne Cardina, bureau chief of healthcare and cannabis, and Fool.com Contributor Brian Orelli discuss how the treatments work and the potential data readouts that Novocure will experience in 2021.
Corinne Cardina: Any upcoming data readouts that investors should be paying attention to?
Brian Orelli: Novocure has quite a few. This is a really interesting company. They have a device that basically puts electric fields into your body near the tumor. It's a cancer play. They put these electric fields near the tumor and then that inhibits the growth. The way it works is that, remember back to your biology when you're looking at two cells that are splitting, you're going to see those spindles that are pulling the chromosomes away, it disrupts those spindles. The electric fields disrupt those spindles. That's how that inhibits the growth of the tumor.
They've had really good success in brain cancer, and so they're expanding into other markets. They have quite a few phase 3 clinical trials, they are running right now. They're set up to have interim results this year and then final results later. The independent data monitoring committee will look at the data and either say, "Well, it's clear that the device is working," so they test the device on versus a mock device that gets put on but doesn't actually do anything. They'll compare those two and then see whether the machine actually improves the patients and theyll either let the trials continue to completion or they'll say, "Oh, yeah. It's definitely working. Let's stop the trials at the interim looks." There's two opportunities for them to profit, although I think if they don't have some success at the interim, their stock may go down. There is some risk, even though there'll be the second opportunity.
Cardina: It's a really interesting technology, tumor-treating fields. Do you think this is something that's supplemental to the standard of care for cancer patients or would it replace something like chemotherapy or radiation?
Orelli: No, I think probably not radiation so much, but chemotherapy and also direct targeted therapies. They could definitely work in combination. Sometimes when you add two drugs together, the side effects are worse than the addition of the two, so they're synergistic and they end up being worse. Where I think the tumor-treating fields, the side effects are pretty minor. They tend mostly to be skin issues versus chemotherapy is all internal. I think that they're definitely testing them in combination, I think that's the way to go. That also reduces their risk in terms of sales because they don't have to compete against another drug, they're just adding onto the drugs.