Why ChemoCentryx Inc (NASDAQ:CCXI) Tanked Today

ChemoCentryx Inc (NASDAQ:CCXI) just put out initial data from its early stage pancreatic cancer trial, and the company is down close to 15% on the numbers. It looks like there may be further losses heading into the close of the US session ahead of Labor Day. Here’s what’s important, and what we can expect when the markets come back in to delayed play next week.

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Let’s take a look at the drug first.

It’s a pancreatic cancer target, called CCX872, and its primary function is the inhibition of a receptor called CCR2. The science behind this one isn’t too complicated, and for those familiar with the way immuno-oncology works, it will be a well versed concept. CCR2 is one of the receptors responsible for hiding the tumorous cell from the T cells of the immune system. They are expressed on the outside of cancer cells, and they mimic the receptors of a healthy cell. When the T cells come along, the reach out to identify the cell type. The cancer cell reaches back with its CCR2, and the T cell links up, check it out, wrongly recognizes it as a host cell, and moves along.

CCR2 inhibition means that the receptor is essentially blocked, so when the T cell reaches out to the cancerous cell there is no link that it can form that signals that the cancer cell is a harmless host cell. No link sets off alarm bells for the T cell, and the T cell sends a signal that rounds up the rest of the immune system for attack.

That’s the theory, at least.

The data wasn’t that great – well, what data there is. The numbers showed an ORR of 37% in a pre specified evaluable population (one that had had at least one baseline scan), reducing to 30% in the entire population (with and without baseline scam n=50).

On it’s own, this might not be bad data, but the study is looking at a combination of CCX872 and standard of care combination referred to as FOLFIRINOX. FOLFIRINOX is an acronym of four chemotherapy agents – 5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, irinotecan and oxaliplatin.

It’s not all that bad, however. The study is primarily a safety study, and according to the data there is no discernible difference between the safety profile normally associated with FOLFIRINOX treatment and that which displayed as a result of this study – so far.

We expect that this will level out once markets resume next week. Things don’t look great right now, but they don’t look terrible, and there’s plenty of room for an efficacy showing in a wider patient population moving forward.

PFS data is set for the end of 2016, and that’s going to be an important release. We’ll keep an eye on things heading forward and update as appropriate.

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