What: Shareholders of Idera Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:IDRA), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on cancer and other rare diseases, had a rough 2015. The company's shares lost more than 36% of their value in during the year, according to data from S&P Capital IQ.

IDRA Chart

So what: The company's poor share price performance is surprising considering all of the positive news items it released during the year. Here are a few highlights long-term investors should be aware of:

  • The FDA granted orphan drug designation for IMO-8400, Idera's compound that is being researched as a treatment for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Landing an orphan drug designation usually allows a company to earn tax credits or gain longer periods of marketing exclusivity if the drug finds its way to market.  
  • IMO-8400 is also being studied as a potential treatment for Dermatomyositis, a rare inflammatory muscle and skin disease. During the year, the company initiated a phase 2 clinical trial to study its usefulness in treating the disease. 
  • The company reported promising data from its ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical trial for IMO-8400 as a treatment for patients with relapsed or refractory Waldenström's Macroglobulinemia.  
  • Idera successfully completed a Phase 1 trial that demonstrated that IMO-9200, a compound that may be used to treat inflammatory bowel disease, was safe and well tolerated across all tested dosages.
  • The company entered into a strategic clinical alliance with MD Anderson Cancer Center to advance research on IMO-2125, Idera's TLR9 agonist, which is being studied in the exciting field of immuno-oncology.
  • Idera signed an agreement with pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) to identify third-generation antisense molecules to be used to treat renal disease. GlaxoSmithKline provided Idera with an initial payment of $2.5 million and set up potential milestones that could send another $100 million Idera's way. If the product's annual net sales exceed $500 million, GlaxoSmithKline will be on the hook to pay up to 5% in royalties. 

Add it all up, and Idera had a productive year.

Now what: While the clinical updates and its new partnerships with MD Anderson Cancer Center and GlaxoSmithKline are encouraging, I think investors should approach this stock with caution. The value of this company is still heavily tied up in its early-stage pipeline, so even if all goes well, it will still be years before the company will be able to produce meaningful revenue. The company is also on pace to burn through nearly $50 million in cash in 2015, and with only $95 million on its books as of September, it's likely that it will have to raise capital in the next year or two.

History isn't on investors' side here, either, as Idera has been a publicly traded company for nearly 20 years now, and long-term investors do not have much to show for their patience.

IDRA Chart

For all those reasons, I would like to see the company move its compounds a bit further along the clinical pathway before I'd even consider putting this company on my radar.