Targovax climbs after posting survival data from I-O trial

Targovax compared the data favorably to results from other studies.

Targovax has posted two-year survival data from a phase 1/2 trial of TG01 in resected pancreatic cancer patients. More than 60% of participants were alive two years after starting treatment, sparking a 40% surge in the stock price of Targovax.

The study gave TG01, a peptide-based RAS immunotherapy, in combination with standard of care to pancreatic cancer patients who had undergone resection. Of the 19 evaluable patients, 13 were alive two years after resection. One patient died shortly after passing the milestone, resulting in only 12 patients being alive two years after starting treatment. But whichever start date is used, the two-year survival rate clocks in at upward of 60%.

To put this figure in context, Targovax looked at two-year survival rates from studies that treated resected pancreatic cancer patients with standard care, gemcitabine. Across the five earlier trials, two-year survival rates ranged from 30% to 53%.

Investors were cheered by the comparison, although Targovax is conscious of the risk of reading too much into data from a small, single-arm trial.

“We are encouraged by the two-year overall survival rate of patients treated with TG01 in this trial, versus the expected rate from published historical data when treating with gemcitabine alone, the current standard of care. Whilst acknowledging the small size of this first patient cohort and the lack of a control arm, we are encouraged by what seems to be a signal of efficacy in this highly malignant and difficult to treat cancer,” Targovax CMO Magnus Jäderberg said in a statement.

Targovax sees the data as sufficiently encouraging to push ahead with TG01, the first candidate to emerge from its TG-Peptide platform. The platform is designed to deliver injectable peptide-based immunotherapies that treat patients whose tumors express RAS mutations. These mutations, which are common in pancreatic cancer, correlate with poor health outcomes. Targovax thinks TG01 can improve the lot of these patients by inducing an immune response.

The ability of TG01 and follow-up compounds from the same platform to live up to this billing will shape the fate of one half of Targovax’s operation. The other half, a pipeline of adenovirus-based immunotherapies, became part of Targovax when it merged with Oncos Therapeutics in 2015.