Celldex ($CLDX) touts promise of PhII brain cancer vaccine data

The executives at Celldex Therapeutics ($CLDX) may be asking themselves 'Who needs Pfizer, anyway?' as they gather at the water cooler this morning. Earlier this year, Celldex's shares took a beating after Pfizer dumped their pact on an experimental brain cancer vaccine. But over the weekend, the developer touted a round of promising mid-stage data on the cancer vaccine--CDX-110, or rindopepimut--setting the stage for a Phase III trial now scheduled for the second half of 2011.

Investigators say that in a study of 65 patients suffering from glioblastoma multiforme tumors, two thirds of the patients showed no sign of disease progression after 5.5 months of treatment, topping a 53 percent average recorded among patients who have received standard of care. That's not a stellar outcome, but in cancer drug circles, even marginal gains have been considered cause for celebration.

"These data suggest that rindopepimut is extending survival well beyond what we have seen historically in this patient population," said Rose Lai, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center and lead investigator on the ACT III study. "The consistency of data from three separate studies is impressive and clearly supports the plan to conduct a controlled pivotal study in GBM."

Shares of CLDX surged more than 7 percent on the news, with the stock trading at $4.95 ahead of the market opening.

- here's the Celldex press release
- get the Reuters report