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Why Investors Are So Excited About Novocure

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD - Apr 20, 2021 at 6:04AM

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The company's Tumor Treating Fields therapy looks very promising in treating lung cancer.

Novocure (NVCR -0.90%) hasn't exactly been the kind of stock that fired up investors very much throughout most of 2021. That changed recently, though, with good news providing a huge catalyst for the stock. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on April 14, 2021, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss why investors are now really excited about Novocure.

Keith Speights: Shares of Novocure, ticker there is NVCR, jumped 50% last Thursday.

Brian Orelli: I'm sorry. I wrote that one. It was on Tuesday.

Speights: Yeah, actually it's Tuesday. Even as I was reading the update there, I thought I saw it earlier this week. Novocure jumped, a massive jump, earlier this week.

Orelli: That was just yesterday.

Speights: Yeah, just yesterday. The company gave an update on its late-stage clinical trial for non-small cell lung cancer. Brian, explain briefly what Novocure does and what made that stock jump so much.

Orelli: The company makes devices that create Tumor Treating Fields. They're basically electric fields, and they inhibit the growth of the tumor by disrupting microtubules. Microtubules are responsible for pulling the DNA between the mother and the daughter cell as a cell divides. So basically if you don't have microtubules and you can't divide it, that's basically what a tumor is. It's uncontrolled growth of cells that aren't supposed to be growing. So the news on Tuesday... [laughs]

Speights: Someday, sometime recently.

Orelli: See, I wrote this really late last night. Today's, Wednesday so yesterday was Tuesday.

They did a routine review of the data by the Independent Data Monitoring Committee of the data from the first 210 patients in this phase 3 clinical trial. The company's still blinded to the data, but the committee gets all of the unblinded data and see who's been treated and who's wearing the machine, but it isn't actually being treated.

The patients also get drugs, so this is on top of drugs that's not a complete placebo trial but comparing drugs plus the device versus drugs online. After reviewing the data, the committee recommended reducing the size and the follow-up time. They want to go from 534 patients with 18 months of follow-up to 276 patients with 12 months of follow-up.

So one, this is going to shorten the trial, and we'll get data quicker, and it'll be on the market quicker. Two, the fact that the committee feels that they can reduce the number of patients and reduce the follow-up suggested the treatment's working and the data that they're seeing suggest that's all they're going to need to go approve that the treatment is working.

Then thirdly, maybe this is as much of the bump as the first two, is that it shows that the treatment is working outside of the brain. They've had some data and they have products on the market for brain cancer and mesothelioma, I think.

But this would be solid data and a large market that they can treat other cancers. So that gives investors more confidence that we are treating more cancers and they have other clinical trials outside of lung cancer that they're running. I think that's probably as much of the bump as the first two.

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