ZIOP Chart

What: Shares of Ziopharm Oncology (NASDAQ:ZIOP), a small-cap biotech company developing viral and cell-based therapies for the treatment of cancer and graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), rose a noteworthy 23.8% in October, according to data provided by S&P Capital IQ.

While there wasn't a specific catalyst that drove shares higher for the month, the company did kick off October by forming a new Exclusive Channel Collaboration with Intrexon (NYSE:XON) for the treatment and prevention of GvHD in the allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) setting. Per the terms of the deal, Ziopharm will pay Intrexon a technology access fee of $10 million in cash, as well as reimburse its partner for all research and development costs.

So what: Nearly 50% of HSCT procedures are allogeneic, meaning from an unrelated donor. Meanwhile, an estimated 35% to 50% of patients receiving allogeneic HSCT are afflicted with acute GvHD. Ziopharm is thus hoping to one day broaden the number of patients eligible for allogeneic HSCT through this new research collaboration with Intrexon.

Now what: As Ziopharm is an early-stage biotech company, all eyes are undoubtedly going to be on its clinical progress at this point in its life cycle. Fortunately, the company is on track to provide a clinical update for its ongoing IL-12 gene therapy study in recurrent or progressive glioblastoma at the upcoming Society for Neuro-Oncology scheduled to take place from Nov. 19 to Nov. 22. Following this, the company is expected to release some preliminary data from an early-stage breast cancer trial at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium this December.

Until these forthcoming data releases are out, however, investors may want to remain cautious with this experimental-stage immuno-oncology company. After all, there isn't a whole lot of data out yet, making it difficult to even form an opinion on the biotech's diverse clinical program. 

George Budwell has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.