The annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting is set to take place between June 2-6, 2017, and the few day period is likely to bring with it a spate of volatility across the biotech space – especially at the development end of the sector. It’s one of the biggest dates on the healthcare calendar, and it’s closely watched by traders and investors alike.
With this in mind, and ahead of the event, here’s a look at two of (what we see as being) the most interesting presentations on the schedule, and what’s drawn us to each.
The two companies, and in turn, presentations, that we’re looking at, are AVEO Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVEO) and Immune Design Corp (NASDAQ:IMDZ).
First, then, AVEO.
This one is an oncology company that is trying to bring treatments to market that are rooted in the inhibition of what’s called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptors. Many reading might already be familiar with VEGF receptors – they play a key role in a process called vasculogenesis, which is the process through which a circulatory system is established, and in turn, a process called angiogenesis, which is the growth of blood vessels from the vascular body that has come about on the back of the preexisting vasculature.
So, AVEO’s lead candidate is called tivozanib, and it’s designed to inhibit the three sub types of VEGF receptors. The idea is that by inhibiting these receptors, new blood vessels aren’t able to form in and around tumors. Tumors are very resource intensive, and they require a large and constant blood flow otherwise they are unable to grow. By inhibiting their access to blood flow, then, AVEO is hoping it can stop growth and (to analogize) kill the tumor off.
The presentation at upcoming ASCO will focus on a few of the company’s assets, but as mentioned, we’re interested in tivozanib, as applied to a condition called refractory advanced renal cell carcinoma – a type of kidney cancer that originates in the lining of the proximal convoluted tubule, a part of the very small tubes in the kidney that transport waste molecules from the blood to the urine.
The drug is in a phase III study right now, which is ongoing, and we should see some interim data (or at least an update as to progress) from said study when management takes the stage come June 4.
If there’s any suggestion that the trial is going well, and we get an indication of potential clinical benefit, we expect AVEO to run up on the back of the presentation at the open of the session subsequent to presentation day.
Ok, let’s move on to Immune Design Corp.
Immune Design is another oncology play, and one that has had a real rollercoaster of a year during 2017 to date. The company opened 2017 in and around the $5.3 mark, and chopped around to the start of March, logging lows of $5 flat on March 6. Subsequent to that date, however, things started to turn around, and Immune Design hit highs of $7.2 on March 20. The run didn’t hold for too long, and the company has since given back some of its gains to the market, but it’s currently trading in and around $6.2, and we’re expecting it will hold this level (and likely run up a little on the back of some speculative loading) ahead of its ASCO presentation.
The presentation itself is going to focus on two separate drugs (primarily), called CMB305 and G100.
The former is currently under investigation as a potential target therapy in a recurrent cancer indication (with no specific type) and also a specific recurrent soft tissue sarcoma indication – a group of rare cancers affecting the tissues that connect, support and surround other body structures and organs.
The latter, G100, is an immuno-oncology asset designed to target (through the eliciting of an immune response against) follicular lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that derives form the production of abnormal B-lymphocytes.
Both drugs have the potential to make a real difference on terms of treatment option expansion in their space, and if the company can demonstrate some degree of clinical benefit when management takes the stage to discuss the ongoing trials, we expect this one to run.
These are just two of the spectrum of presentations, of course. Post conference, we’ll take a look at what moved, and why.