Interest in immunotherapies continues to build up - earlier this
week, Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy ETF
, the first ETF dedicated only to stocks involved in the research
and development of immuno-oncology treatments, started trading on
The Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy ETF comprises both large pharma
and growth-oriented biotech companies working on immuno-oncology
The basic concept of cancer immunotherapy or immuno-oncology is
to utilize certain parts of the immune system to fight the disease.
This can be done by stimulating the immune system to attack cancer
cells or by introducing immune system components into the body.
While some immuno-oncology treatments have the potential to be
effective as monotherapies, others may be more effective when
combined with other treatments.
Different types of immunotherapies include monoclonal
antibodies/mAbs (man-made versions of immune system proteins which
can be designed to attack a very specific part of a cancer cell),
immune checkpoint inhibitors (recognize and attack cancer cells),
vaccines (help prevent or treat cancer) and others that boost the
overall immune system.
Encouraging results generated by some companies demonstrating
partial and complete responses in late-stage cancer patients has
raised hopes for cancer patients and increased interest in the
5 Promising Immuno-Oncology Focused Stocks
Given the growing interest in immuno-oncology treatments, let's
take a look at some pharma and biotech companies that are looking
to change the way we treat cancer.
First on the list is Amgen
, one of the biggest and most well-known names in biotech. The
company saw its immunotherapy, Blincyto, gain FDA approval in Dec
2014, making it the first approved drug that engages the body's
T-cells to destroy leukemia cells. Amgen also has immuno-oncology
focused collaborations with companies like Roche and Merck
for its experimental cancer treatment talimogene laherparepvec.
is another large-cap company looking to redefine the
cancer-treatment paradigm. The company's focus is on four key
platforms -- immunotherapy, the genetic drivers of cancer and
resistance, DNA damage repair, and antibody drug conjugates --
supported by personalized healthcare and biomarker
Seattle, WA-based Juno Therapeutics, Inc.
is looking to revolutionize cancer treatments by engaging the
body's immune system to treat cancer. Juno is developing cell-based
cancer immunotherapies based on chimeric antigen receptors (CARs)
and high-affinity T cell receptor (TCR) technologies - the goal is
to activate a patient's own T-cells to recognize and kill cancer
cells. According to the company, genetically-engineered T-cells
have the potential to meaningfully improve survival and quality of
life for cancer patients.
Lead candidate, JCAR015, is currently in a phase I study in
relapsed/refractory B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (r/r ALL)
patients - data so far is encouraging and the company is looking to
commence a pivotal phase II study in adult r/r ALL patients shortly
that could support accelerated approval in the U.S. in 2017.
Kite Pharma, Inc.
is another company focused on the development of immuno-oncology
treatments. Kite uses its engineered autologous cell therapy (eACT)
to genetically modify T-cells to express either CARs or TCRs. These
modified T-cells are designed to recognize and destroy cancer
cells. The Santa Monica, CA-based company has tied up with
companies like Amgen and bluebird and could well see its most
advanced pipeline candidate, KTE-C19, launching in 2017.
has an extensive oncology pipeline and is well positioned with both
large and small molecule approaches to immuno-oncology. In order to
maximize the value of its pipeline programs, Incyte has
collaboration agreements with companies like Merck, Roche,
AstraZeneca, Agenus and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
The company's immuno-oncology pipeline includes IDO1 inhibitors
(IDO1 inhibition shifts the immune system from an immunosuppressive
state to an activated state thereby allowing the body to mount a
more effective anti-tumor immune response), PI3K-delta inhibitors
(PI3K-delta pathway mediates oncogenic signaling in B cell
malignancies), and JAK inhibitors (JAK promotes tumor growth by
integrating pro-inflammatory cytokine signals).
The Allure of Immuno-Oncology
Immuno-oncology treatments hold huge commercial potential and
have the ability to change the treatment paradigm. With companies
working on bringing improved treatments with fewer side effects to
market, it may be a good idea to keep an eye on these stocks which
may revolutionize cancer treatments.
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ASTRAZENECA PLC (AZN): Free Stock Analysis
AMGEN INC (AMGN): Free Stock Analysis Report
INCYTE CORP (INCY): Free Stock Analysis Report
MERCK & CO INC (MRK): Free Stock Analysis
KITE PHARMA INC (KITE): Free Stock Analysis
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