The Wealthy Biotech Trader (or “WBT”), an investment newsletter focused on showing everyday investors new opportunities in rapidly growing, little-known, biotech, pharma and medical device stocks making news and subsequent market moves, would like to highlight a couple of companies that we believe have immense potential in the quest for an effective pancreatic cancer treatment.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), 48,960 new pancreatic cancer cases were diagnosed in the U.S last year with about 80 percent of these resulting in fatalities. Since the pancreas is located deep within the abdomen where tumors are hard to detect, early diagnosis of the disease is difficult and because the cancer can progress very quickly from stage I to stage IV in an average of 1.3 years treatment options are extremely limited.
Currently there are no biomarkers detectable in the blood or bodily fluids which could give a hint of the presence of the disease resulting in a majority of the cases being diagnosed in the late stages. Furthermore pancreatic cancer is the only major cancer with a 5 year survival rate in the single digits at just 7 percent with the NCI projecting that it will surpass both breast cancer and colorectal cancer to become the 2nd leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States by around 2020. It is therefore no surprise that a considerable number of biotechs such as Advanced Medical Isotope (ADMD) have decided to take a leading role in developing an effective treatment against the disease, exposing investors to the potential of massive gains.
ADMD’s Y-90 RadioGel offers great prospects for treating pancreatic cancer
ADMD is engaged in the development of brachytherapy devices and medical isotopes specifically yttrium-90, which it believes hold the key to dealing with pancreatic cancer. With the constant improvement in technology as well as increasing awareness of the effectiveness of brachytherapy, it has gradually emerged as one of the popular cancer treatment options and is expected to grow to an $8 billion market by next year. The company’s lead product candidate is Y-90 RadioGel which is awaiting the FDA’s clearance to become licensed as a class II medical device.
The simplest explanation of how the Y-90 RadioGel works is that it’s injected into inoperable tumors and then hardens effectively stopping the spread of cancer with the radioactivity effectively killing the cancerous cells while focusing the therapeutic dose to the affected area. This treatment also has a shorter half-life of 2.7 days compared to current treatments which have a half-life of 10 to 65 days, making it safer for both patients and the medical staff.
With estimates from the NCI indicating that spending on pancreatic cancer treatment totaled about $2.6 billion in 2014, ADMD appears to be well positioned to reap huge returns once the FDA gives its approval since it could potentially steal a large share of the market from the existing standard of care. For investors, this means that they could see a dramatic increase in ADMD’s $20 million valuation before the end of the year based on the fact that the treatment is not the only catalyst to look out for.
More pancreatic cancer treatment providers to look at
Celgene (CELG) which manufacturers drug therapies for cancer and inflammatory disorders currently offers the standard of care for pancreatic cancer with its Abraxane and gemcitabine drug combination. Currently, this combination is being used by half of all newly diagnosed pancreatic cancer cases in the United States and is also enjoying increasing uptake in the European markets.
Furthermore, the company expects the drug to gain more popularity as a result of positive data from the APACT trial expected in 2017 which compares the efficacy of two chemotherapy regimens in patients whose cancer has been removed by surgery. Celgene expects Abraxane to rake in about $1 billion in revenue this year reaffirming the bright prospects of pursuing pancreatic cancer treatments.
Bellicum Pharmaceuticals (BLCM), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing novel cellular immunotherapies for cancers and orphan inherited blood disorders is currently in the process of developing a new treatment for pancreatic cancer which it refers to as BPX-601. This new treatment is a GoCAR-T™ product candidate containing Bellicum’s proprietary iMC, (inducible MyD88/CD40) activation switch designed to treat solid tumors expressing prostate stem cell antigen – a cancer antigen expressed in many malignancies such as pancreatic cancer. The initial phase I clinical trial will begin enrolling in the next couple of months with planned indication being for no-resectable pancreatic cancer.
Halozyme Therapeutics (HALO) develops, and commercializes human enzymes used to facilitate the delivery of injected drugs and fluids, enhancing the efficacy and the convenience of other drugs or can be used to alter tissue structures for clinical benefit. This company’s stock has struggled over the past couple of months declining by just about 45 percent on an YTD basis in spite of posting impressive first quarter results. The company is in the process of carrying out phase III clinical trials for one of its product candidates, PEGPH20 for use with Abraxane and gemcitabine for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Halozyme expects this combination to be effective in treating stage 4 metastatic pancreatic cancer after showing significant treatment effect in 135 subjects during stage one of the study according to data presented at ASCO16 in Chicago.
ChemoCentryx Inc (CCXI) is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of orally administered therapeutics to treat cancer, orphan and rare diseases as well as a host of other conditions. One of its lead drug candidates is CCX872 which is currently in phase Ib clinical trials for the treatment of patients with stage 3 or 4 pancreatic cancer. The study aims to evaluate whether orally administered CCX872 can reduce progression of the disease in patients with nonresectable pancreatic cancer undergoing treatment with FOLFIRINOX which is one of the standards of care. Initial progression free data is expected in the second half of 2016 which could signal a huge turning point for the company.
Merrimack (MACK) is a biopharmaceutical company that develops and commercializes medicines consisting of novel therapeutics paired with diagnostics for the treatment of cancer primarily in the United States. The company is responsible for developing ONIVYDE which is used for the treatment of patients with metastatic cancer of the pancreas after disease progression following gemcitabine-based therapy. In October last year, ONIVYDE received approval from the FDA to treat the condition as well as an orphan drug designation after increasing the survival rates of patients being treated with fluorouracil/leucovorin to 6.1 months compared to 4.2 months without it. Following this, Merrimack and Baxalta have entered into an exclusive licensing agreement to develop and commercialize ONIVYDE outside of the United States.
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