Juno, Five Prime are Quiet Winners at AACR

Juno, Five Prime are Quiet Winners at AACR, Analyst Says
April 21, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

NEW ORLEANS – Following presentations at the American Association for Cancer Research 2016 in New Orleans, analysts at Benzinga were most impressed with two companies they dubbed the “winners flying under the radar,” – Juno Therapeutics and Five Prime .

The publication cited Juno’s promising CAR T cell-based therapy leukemia data in pediatric and young adult patients and Five Prime’s pre-clinical data for FPA144 as reasons for singling those companies out.

During the conference, Juno presented data on its Car-T treatments. Seattle-based Juno’s JCAR018 is a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell product candidate targeting CD22 in pediatric and young adult patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Juno’s data showed that of the six patients treated with JCAR018, one who was administered the lowest dose achieved complete remission and complete molecular remission for a period of about three months. Three patients taking a higher dosage achieved complete remission and complete molecular remission for a period of between three and six months.

Analysts were impressed, with Peter Lawson of SunTrust rating Juno stock a buy. He said the data was a “positive for Juno,” Benzinga noted.

After analysts touted Juno’s work, the stock has seen a slight bump in morning trading, climbing to $43.66 per share, slightly down from Monday’s three-month high of $44.46 per share.

Earlier this month Juno and Celgene moved forward with the development of a treatment for adult patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Celgene plans to develop and commercialize Juno’s therapies outside of North America and China, and the companies will now share global development expenses for products in the CD19 program. Celgene has commercial rights outside of North America and China and will pay Juno a royalty at a percentage on future sales.

For Bay Area’s Five Prime, the company presented data showing its FPA144 monoclonal antibody limited tumor growth in vivo when combined with an anti-PD-1 mAb in mouse models, Benzinga said. Five Prime’s FPA144 is being used in preclinical trials for patients with solid tumors, including gastric cancer. Five Prime’s FPA144 is an anti-FGF receptor 2b (FGFR2b) humanized monoclonal antibody in clinical development as a targeted immune therapy for tumors that over-express FGFR2b. The treatment is designed to block tumor growth through two distinct mechanisms. First, it binds specifically to FGFR2b and prevents the binding of certain fibroblast growth factors that promote tumor growth. Second, it has been engineered to drive immune-based killing of tumor cells by antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) and the recruitment of natural killer (NK) cells, according to Five Prime.

Oppenheimer has issued an “outperform rating” on Five Prime Therapeutics stock, Benzinga said.

Since the start of 2016, Five Prime’s stock saw a drop of about 20 percent. The stock started the year trading at $41.50 per share. In February, the stock hit a low of $29.04 per share. However, positive data from its clinical and preclinical trials have sent the stock to $47.85 per share as of Wednesday’s close.

Last month, GlaxoSmithKline notified Five Prime it was terminating its five-year developmental partnership for the early-stage cancer drug FP-1039, which was being studied for non-small cell lung cancer and mesothelioma. In January, GlaxoSmithKline and Five Prime abandoned its squamous non-small cell lung cancer trial with FP-1039, but continued to focus on a trial for mesothelioma.

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