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Why Shares of Oncothyreon Inc. Shot Up Today

By Brian Feroldi - Jun 1, 2015 at 1:31PM

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Oncothyreon stock was up big today. Is the movement meaningful, or just market noise?

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Oncothyreon Inc (NASDAQ: ONTY), a biopharmaceutical company researching products for the treatment of cancer, was up more than 21% today after the company presented data at the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2015 meeting.

So what: The company presented positive data from their two ongoing clinical trials for ONT-380, an oral HER2 inhibitor designed to treat breast cancer. The first presentation highlighted positive data from a Phase 1b trial that combined ONT-380 with Xeloda and/or Herceptin as a third-line treatment. The company reported that ONT-380 was well tolerated and that 14 of the 27 patients in the trial showed either a complete or partial response to the therapy.

The second presentation highlighted positive data from another Phase 1b clinical trial related to the role that ONT-380 could play in the treatment of CNS metastases in combination with Kadcyla. Out of 14 patients, 5 showed either complete or partial response to the therapy, with the remainder showing a stable disease state.

Diana Hausman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Oncothyreon stated: "Oncothyreon is currently planning a blinded, randomized placebo-controlled Phase 2 trial of ONT-380 in combination with Herceptin and Xeloda for the treatment of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer in patients who have failed both Perjeta (pertuzumab) and Kadcyla, which we expect to initiate late this year". 

Now what: Seeing positive news like this gave Oncothyreon investors a reason to cheer today, as it is always great when an investigational drug shows positive results that warrant further study. However, investors should remember that ONT-380 is only entering phase 2, and the drug still has many hurdles to clear before it could potentially become available. Oncothyreon remains a very high risk stock, as the company is still not generating any revenue and is losing money every year. Today's results are encouraging, but I'll personally be staying away until the company proves that it can get its drugs through the regulatory approval process and begin to generate meaningful revenue. Until then, the company is simply too high risk for my taste.

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