Why Diffusion Pharma Surged After Its Biotech Showcase Presentation
Shares of Diffusion Pharmaceuticals shot up more than 40 percent Tuesday after the company provided an overview of the company and its Phase III candidate used to treat brain cancer patients where tumor hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) diminishes efficacy of standard of care treatments.
On Tuesday, Chief Executive Officer David Kalergis made the presentation at the 10th Annual Biotech Showcase Conference in San Francisco and sparked a flurry of investor activity. Shares shot up from $1.21 to $1.92 on Jan. 9. This morning though, shares have fallen back about 8 percent as some investors likely sold off shares after making a quick profit. Shares hit $1.92 on Tuesday but fell to a morning low of $1.52 today. Diffusion is trading at $1.60 as of 10:46 a.m.
What sparked the flurry of stock activity? Whatever was said clearly pleased investors and caused them to snap up shares of the small-cap stock. The company presentation is not yet available on the Diffusion website. It could be related to the company’s lead product trans sodium crocetinate (TSC), which is used in patients with newly-diagnosed inoperable glioblastoma multiforme. Enrollment in the Phase III trial, dubbed INTACT (INvestigating Tsc Against Cancerous Tumors), began in December.
Phase II data showed a nearly four-fold increase in survival of the inoperable patient subgroup compared with historical controls when TSC was added to their treatment regimen, according to the company. Data showed that 40 percent of the patients were alive at two years vs. 10.4 percent.
Diffusion’s TSC mechanism of action is designed to affect the tumor micro-environment, which makes treatment-resistant cancer cells more susceptible to the “tumor-killing power of conventional radiation therapy (“RT”) and chemotherapy (temozolomide) by re-oxygenation of the hypoxic portion of the tumor,” the company said.
When Diffusion announced the start of the Phase III trial, it said it “believes that a largely intact GBM tumor vasculature with limited surgical resection is conducive to TSC’s tumor re-oxygenation properties, and that this contributed to the survival increase in the Phase II GBM inoperable patient subgroup.”
“Given the dire prognosis of inoperable GBM brain cancer, we are especially gratified to have the INTACT clinical trial open for enrollment. We believe that TSC can provide new hope for these patients, whose treatment options are so limited. The four-fold increase in inoperable GBM patients alive at two years in our Phase 2 trial is a particularly strong efficacy signal, and informs the design of our Phase 3 trial,” Kalergis said in a December statement.