Less than two weeks ago, after its cancer vaccine flopped in a Phase III lung cancer trial, GlaxoSmithKline said it would continue looking for improvements among patients with a certain genetic makeup. But no longer: The British drugmaker has put the kibosh on the trial, establishing that it won't be possible to ID a subpopulation that will benefit.
Last month GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty gave an upbeat assessment of the prospects of the MAGE-A3 cancer vaccine, with the executive saying the product has several chances to succeed. Now it has one fewer after the vaccine missed its primary endpoints in a Phase III lung cancer trial.
In 2011, Amgen splashed out an initial $425 million to buy BioVex and its cancer vaccine in what analysts described as a "high risk, high reward" deal. A little more than three years later Amgen is close to finding out if the bet has paid off, and the latest data is encouraging.
A pair of biotechs will proceed with cancer vaccine studies thanks to recent recommendations from data-monitoring committees. Their announcements drew mixed results from investors, with Northwest Biotherapeutics' shares soaring and NewLink Genetics' sinking. But as they forge ahead, both companies will have to shake off the looming specters of failed cancer vaccine trials past.
The Indian government is negotiating with GlaxoSmithKline and Merck to secure a low-cost supply of human papillomavirus vaccines
The reasons for low uptake of HPV vaccines have been well researched and widely discussed by academia and government agencies, yet this knowledge has done nothing to increase adoption. Now, the President's Cancer Panel has weighed in to give momentum to a public health campaign it views as a "profound opportunity" to prevent cancer.
GlaxoSmithKline's MAGE-A3 cancer vaccine was viewed as a long shot by some analysts even before it missed its first co-primary endpoint last year. Yet while analysts lowered expectations in the wake of the weak data in melanoma patients, GSK is continuing to promote its prospects.
Although recent products have given prostate cancer patients more treatment options, the American Cancer Society still estimates that almost 30,000 men died of the disease last year. This week virtual drug developer Madison Vaccines raised $8 million to further its ambitions to cut that figure.
While Dendreon fell well short of serving as a good example of how cancer vaccine businesses can succeed on the public markets, it did at least provide a horrible warning of what can go wrong. Argos Therapeutics is undeterred though and has revived its IPO plans.
Agenus has fallen a long way since its stock briefly traded for $300 a share in 2000. The failure of its partner GlaxoSmithKline's cancer vaccine in September sent the stock tumbling 23% to $2.84 and it continued to drop in the following months. Now though, Agenus has good news to report.