OncoSec Medical Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company developing new technologies called OMS and ImmunoPulse for improvement of several cancer therapies. Today the company announced a collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), on a phase 2 trial also collaborating with Merck (NYSE: MRK). The stock surged yesterday November 25 by more than 20% after the announcement. The company has several upcoming catalysts by the end of the year from regarding their clinical trials.
Usually, we don’t mention stocks that trade over the counter, but OncoSec’s CEO, Punit Dhillon, worked as a Vice President of Finance and Operations at Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: INO). In 2011, OncoSec reached a purchase and license agreement with Inovio on technology assets. OncoSec methods still need to prove to be effective, and their innovative approach already showed satisfying results from previous phase 1 clinical trials. The OncoSec Medical System (OMS) is designed with electroporation technology. Electroporation is a molecular biology technique that allows for a better infiltration of drugs and chemicals into a cell by applying an electrical field on cells.
Another development of OncoSec and their main product candidate is ImmunoPulse, which uses OMS to deliver the essential DAN IL-12 protein into the electroporated cells. The IL-12 protein increases the levels of circulation of tumor killing cells. Using OMS allows delivering the protein directly into the tumor.
The company has three separate trials using the OMS and ImmunoPulse technologies, all currently undergoing phase 2 clinical trials. The metastatic melanoma phase 2 trial that was announced yesterday is for patients who are non-responsive to Merck’s drug Keytruda. The main objective of the trial is to evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficiency of Keytruda in combination with OncoSec’s ImmunoPulse. Data from phase I study showed that using ImmunoPulse in melanoma patients is well tolerated, and patients demonstrated promising anti-tumor activity. This trial will end sometime in the first quarter of 2015.
Keytruda is a new class of cancer drug, and a first PD-1(a protein negatively regulate immune responses) inhibitor, to be approved by the FDA. It is also called an immune checkpoint inhibitor. Yet despite all its impressive achievements the drug is losing its effectiveness in patients who suffer from advanced stage of melanoma. If the combination of ImmunoPulse with Keytruda will prove itself to be productive, it will attract many potential partners who have developed inhibitors to collaborate with OncoSec.
The other two trials, for Merkel cell carcinoma and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, require efficient and targeted immunotherapy as a potential treatment. Using OMS and ImmunoPulse has the potential to provide the desired level of targeting to more effectively treat these diseases.
There are approximately 75,000 new cases of melanoma, 3,000 new cases of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, and 1,500 new cases of Merkel-cell carcinoma are diagnosed annually.
OncoSec has managed to keep a clean balance sheet, with no debt and $37.85 million cash. With $2.3 million average cash burn throughout 2014, the company has enough cash to last at least through 2015.
OncoSec is expected to report more information on their ongoing phase 2 trials before the end of the year. Stay tuned for more information.