Who will be the next Dendreon? That’s the question investors are asking today, as Dendreon’s good news from this morning is sending a ripple effect through shares of other companies that aspire to develop treatments that stimulate the immune system to fight cancer. Lexington, MA-based Antigenics saw its shares rocket 63 percent in mid-day trading, while Seattle-based Oncothyreon climbed by a more modest 10 percent.
The spark for all of this came before markets opened this morning. Seattle-based Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) said its immune-boosting therapy Provenge, sometimes called a cancer vaccine, was able to prolong lives of men with terminal prostate cancer in a clinical trial of 512 patients. Dendreon, which has been on a fascinating, and controversial, journey the past few years, saw its stock more than double on the news from $7.30 to $17.50 at noon Eastern. It was the second-most active stock on the NASDAQ today behind Fifth Third Bancorp.
That momentum spilled over to Antigenics (NASDAQ: AGEN), which is developing a different kind of immune boosting therapy for kidney cancer, called Oncophage. The company failed to show that treatment could slow down kidney cancer relapses, although further analysis of a subpopulation with less aggressive tumors has suggested a benefit. Regulators in Russia have accepted that data and approved the treatment there, and it has asked European regulators for approval, although Antigenics hasn’t generated any significant sales yet. Antigenics stock climbed 63 percent to 77 cents at 12:13 pm Eastern today, on about eight times the average trading volume.
Oncothyreon has made a strategic decision to invest more of its resources in cancer drugs, not cancer vaccines, although it still retains a significant piece of a treatment for lung tumors called Stimuvax, being developed in a partnership with Merck KGaA of Germany. Oncothyreon shares climbed 10 percent to $3.09 at 12:20 pm Eastern time, on about quadruple the average trading volume. The stock has already doubled in the past three months.
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