ImmunoCellular Therapeutics Achieves Key Genetic Milestone in Research

Genetics Investing
Genetics Investing

This proof-of-concept trial proves what the company is able to do with its Stem-to-T-Cell program, but will it generate returns?

High-risk companies are generally those that don’t yet have products released or regulatory approvals, but these same companies — if successful with their proof-of-concept trials — can lead to profitable returns for investors.

For ImmunoCellular Therapeutics (NYSE:IMUC), that may very well be the case. It announced on Thursday (April 12) that it successfully completed a T cell receptor into a human stem cell — a big milestone for proof-of-concept work for the technology. The Stem-to-T-Cell technology is developed to stimulate an unlimited supply of cancer-killing T cells.

Completing this proof-of-concept work means the company can begin testing in animals and — if conducive — will allow it to advance testing in humans next in clinical trials. This work was based off the successful transfecting of genetic material into human blood stem cells, which was completed at the end of 2017 by ImmunoCellular’s research team.

“Our vision is to develop solutions for intractable cancers, extend the lives of cancer patients, and provide hope for a potential cure,” Steven Swanson, senior vice president of ImmunoCellular research, said in a press release. “We believe that our Stem-to-T-Cell program is potentially a game-changing treatment for cancer, and could be effective in treating many types of cancers.”

Swanson said the company and its collaborators are now working to begin animal studies to complete work in the trial. ImmunoCellular’s CEO, Anthony Gringeri, said the company is actively searching for potential collaborations for its clinical programs.

The Stem-to-T-Cell program is in-licensed from the California Institute of Technology as a highly direct method to engineer antigen-specific tumor killing. It involves collecting stem cells from cancer patients, then cloning those cells into T cell receptors which kill cancer cells. The cloned cells are then reintroduced into the patient’s body and should reproduce more T cells.

This program may work to defeat many different types of cancer, including solid and hematological tumors. This approach is different from other immuno-oncology CAR-T therapies which deliver active T cells, but have also been associated with toxicity in some patients. ImmunoCellular’s gradual method of releasing the T cells may reduce the toxicity for patients.

ImmunoCellular has three ongoing clinical trials for different cancer indications and five candidates in its research pipeline chart all for the immunotherapy market.

Investor takeaway

On Thursday morning following the announcement, ImmunoCellular’s share price saw a spike of 28.64 percent to $0.30, but dropped 15.27 percent to close Thursday’s trading period at $0.27.

Although the company has seen a big decrease in its share price over the last five years — and even in the last 52 weeks — ImmunoCellular’s share price could continue increasing if it is able to secure additional funding for its Phase 3 trial for ICT-107 for glioblastoma. The trial was withdrawn in June 2017 due to insufficient funding.

This positive news for the company may have spiked some investors’ attention, but it will be up to the company to secure more funding to move forward with current and future clinical trials.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Gabrielle Lakusta, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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