In early July 2016, Juno Therapeutics stock value plummeted by an unprecedented 27% after three patients died in a clinical trial testing their lead cancer therapy. After this, US regulators put this trial on pause, causing questions to be asked about the safety of the new approaches to battling cancer. The trial in question was being tested on adults with relapsed or refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia for a therapy known as JCAR015.
CAR-T for refractive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is the hot topic in the industry at the moment as it is extremely difficult to treat when it becomes refractory, with most patients who suffer with it dying within just a few months. Juno shot to fame in December 2014 with their phase 1 trial of JCAR015, putting 24 out of 27 patients with ALL into remission, and with six patients remaining disease free for more than a year. An incredible result for a biotech company that opened just a year prior to this trial. A year and a half later, it’s a slightly different story.
A dramatic decrease in share prices of competitors also testing CAR-T therapies was seen, with Kite Pharma falling 6.8% and bluebird bio dropping by 2%. Celgene, who last year spent $1billion investing in Juno have announced that they are still in support of Juno, and are still looking to develop Juno’s CD19 CAR-T programme across the globe.
After the deaths, the FDA put a clinical hold on Juno’s phase 2 clinical trial of JCAR015 on the 7th July, however this was lifted on the 14th July, after Juno changed their pre-conditioning method. Stock prices are yet to recover from the initial blow for Juno, but the falls taken by bluebird bio and Kite Pharma however seem to have improved, with both closing on September 2nd higher than their values on the 7th July.
Over the next couple of months, Juno’s share prices may gradually improve, as they get over the disaster that occurred back in July. With new collaborations with Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Canter and Eureka Therapeutics, it may well be that Juno Therapeutics will be back on track quite soon. Kite Pharma is currently planning to file for U.S. approval however for its leading treatment by the end of this year – which could result as some pressures being put on Juno.
Patricia Gräf, Principal Scientist from Juno Therapeutics will be presenting at the World Immunotherapy Congress in November this year, talking about their work in CAR-T therapies and the production of gene-modified T cells. Make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to speak with Juno and find out more about what they’re working on over the 14-16th November in Basel. You can also hear from Dr Renier Brentjens, Director of Cellular Therapeutics from Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Centre as he talks about recognising novel CAR T cell designs and the barriers to CAR T cell therapy.
Hear also from Novartis, Roche, Abbvie, University Hospital Basel, MedImmune and more at the World Immunotherapy Congress 2016, taking place 14-16th November in Basel, Switzerland. Click here to find out more and register using the code ‘ATPW’ to get a 10% discount.