Brain cancer vaccine data gives Agenus' stock a boost

Agenus ($AGEN) has had a topsy-turvy month. Its share price fell off a cliff after the GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) vaccine that uses its adjuvant failed a Phase III trial, only to rally this week on the back of news about its own clinical candidate.

On Tuesday, the Lexington, MA-based biotech reported brain cancer patients receiving its vaccine and the standard of care in a Phase II trial lived for 17.8 months without their cancer progressing. The 46-patient trial lacked a placebo arm, with Agenus instead comparing its results to data published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2005. In the 2005 study, patients on radiation and chemotherapy--the standard of care for people with glioblastoma multiforme--went 6.9 months without their cancer progressing.

This suggests Agenus' vaccine drove a 160% increase in progression-free survival, although as the data came from different trials, factors other than the drug could have contributed to the improvement. Nonetheless, some analysts reacted favorably to the news. "We are impressed by the data and look forward to feedback from the FDA regarding next steps," Roth Capital Partners analyst Joseph Pantginis wrote in a note seen by Reuters. Pantginis now believes Agenus' vaccine has a 45% chance of success in front-line glioblastoma.

In the hours following the release of the news, Agenus' shares soared, only to fall off later in the day. The slide continued the next day when Agenus detailed plans to sell 2.2 million shares of common stock for $3 per share as part of a $6.5 million financing deal. At the end of the last quarter, Agenus had $13 million in cash.

- here's Agenus Phase II release
- and its financing news
- check out Reuters' take
- read details of the Roth note