Core drug delivery technology: Small molecule drug conjugates (see image at right) designed to deliver "highly active drug payloads" to receptors on cancer cells in an extremely targeted way. The company explains that the drugs themselves are designed to be rapidly absorbed at the target, and then cleared from the bloodstream just as fast, with a short half-life (20 minutes) designed to reduce toxic side effects. Also, Endocyte designs a companion imaging diagnostic for each drug to help maximize its use and effect for individual patients.
Why the company, and its tech, matters: After going public last year and raising $75 million, we named Endocyte one of the top Biotech IPOs of 2011. More than that, Lux Research calls Endocyte ($ECYT) a "notable, up-and-coming" example of companies developing "affinity-based targeting technologies" for drug delivery, which boost the concentration of a treatment at the precise target. What's more, as the analyst firm points out, after long years of development, the company has generated "strong momentum" in guiding its lead drug through Phase III clinical trials. The compound--EC145--a treatment for ovarian and other cancers with a common overexpressed receptor --recently gained orphan drug status from the European Commission along with its companion diagnostic imaging agent. Next: Endocyte plans to file for EU approval in the third quarter to use the drug as a treatment for folate-receptor positive platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. In the U.S., Endocyte recently resumed its Phase III PROCEED trial comparing EC145 combined with Doxil to treat ovarian cancer with Doxil alone, after pausing late last year due to Doxil shortages. The combined good news has helped boost the company's stock to the $5 range, after dropping to about $3 earlier this year from initially inconclusive Phase II EC145 trial news.