A little more recognition, this time in Immuno-Oncology News:
“Compugen Develops Promising Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor
By Ines Martins, Ph.D. June 24, 2016”
“Compugen’s leading therapeutic candidate COM701, an immune checkpoint inhibitor, is now undergoing pre-clinical development to advance to the clinical trial phase, with an anticipated investigational new drug (IND) filing to the FDA next year…”
Plus 10 more paragraphs abstracted from Compugen’s press release
At long last,
1) with CGEN-15029/COM701’s significant progress (approaching IND), and
2) increased interest in additional checkpoint inhibitors (moving beyond PD-1) due to meaningful but limited success rates (approx. 20%),
Compugen and its IP (including 11 novel mAb targets) should begin to receive more publicity as evidenced by this article.
Having listened to Ari's JMP Securities Life Science presentation, I wanted to correct a statement above. He said that, as a result of the work on CGEN-15029, the advancement of other checkpoint inhibitors will not necessarily be faster, but they will be "easier."
Also, he confirmed (among other things) that:
1) The Bayer collaborations continue to move forward.
2) Profs. Drake and Pardoll continue to have (approx.) weekly contact with the company.
3) The cash burn rate will stay approximately the same, and
4) the willingness of Drs. Sigal and Holzman to sign on as strategic advisors is evidence that the company's findings are valid and relevant.
Ari also talked about the relatively low success rate of PD-1 inhibitors (alone and in combination), and the resultant need (as discussed at ASCO and mentioned on this message board) for the next wave of checkpoint inhibitors.
It’s good to see the CGEN-15029 program is on track. Also important, IMO, was Anat’s statement:
“The rapid progress of the CGEN-15029 program, with extremely aggressive timelines from target discovery and validation to therapeutic antibody development, was made possible in large part by the identification of CGEN-15029’s binding partner and the expansion of the Company's immuno-oncology R&D infrastructure. In parallel to the CGEN-15029 program, Compugen is using this infrastructure to pursue additional novel immuno-oncology programs and is now positioned to advance them.”
Compugen learned a great deal from this initial process, and it will make the advancement of other checkpoint inhibitors faster and more efficient. Given the need for additional checkpoints (as I have highlighted in recent posts), this is terrific news for long-term investors.
I thought Compugen investors would be interested in the following online article:
"U.S. regulator says too many drugmakers chasing same cancer strategy" by Deena Beasley (Reuters)
Here's a tiny excerpt:
"People should ask themselves ... would we be better off spending those resources into looking at more novel drugs?" Pazdur told Reuters during the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago this week."
"Dr. Richard Pazdur, head of the Food and Drug Administration's office of oncology products, was referring to therapies designed to disable the PD-1 protein that tumors use to evade the immune system."
The above is why, IMO, Compugen's novel checkpoints are so valuable. Now, when the emphasis shift to exploring novel checkpoint drugs will occur is still an open question--and a current frustration to company shareholders. It has taken much, much longer than most expected. But I strongly believe the industry will move in the direction Pazdur suggests, and eventually Compugen's intellectual property and current and future deals will be valued such that the stock sells for a multiple of its current price.
There's lots of press coming from ASCO in Chicago (my wife is there...) This excerpt from an interview with Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Matthew Hellmann captures a small piece relevant to Compugen investors:
"How would you describe the progress we’re making in immunotherapy for lung cancer?
What I think is remarkable is that, just a few years ago, nobody thought immunotherapy was relevant in lung cancer. Since 2012, there’s been this remarkable expansion of trials and data for PD-1 inhibitors. The result is that we now have a totally new class of drugs for the most common and deadliest type of cancer in the world.
Although the change in the field has been profound, not everyone benefits from these therapies. Only 15 to 20 percent of patients with lung cancer benefit from PD-1 blockade by itself. And so it prompts two major questions: How do we identify more precisely the people who should get PD-1 therapy? And then also how do we develop new immunotherapy combinations so that we can help more people?
At ASCO, you’ll be presenting updated data from a clinical trial that combined a PD-1 inhibitor with another immunotherapy drug (a CTLA-4 inhibitor). How do the data look?
I think the data are really compelling. I hope the message that comes out of ASCO, both from this report and others, is that the initial successes of PD-1 inhibitors by themselves for patients with lung cancer are just the beginning. There is real promise in combination immunotherapy and I expect there will be opportunities for new molecules and new combinations to let more patients benefit from immunotherapy in the future."
(from Combination Immunotherapy Shows New Promise for Lung Cancer
By Matthew Tontonoz on Wednesday, June 1, 2016--excerpt reprinted from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website)
Thanks. I was not at the meeting, the investors who were are not my friends (the information was relayed from a reliable second-hand source), and I have never experienced any “wink, wink” in my meetings with management. So please feel free to consider my post as lacking in substance and/or predictive value.
Let me correct my post because it appears you are reading it too literally. It is unlikely that management said "nothing has changed since the last conference call re: the Bayer deal and 15029." What is more likely is that when asked the question: "How are things going?" Management responded by saying "listen to/read the information given in the last conference call." The subtextual message is the same, but no SEC rules are violated.
Of course, I have no legal training, so I'm happy to be corrected by the legal scholars on the board...
Don’t worry, I also write fiction, and perhaps what I have written above is just that! In fact, King Bayer may arrive on the scene far sooner than expected to rescue his news-starved supplicants—a kind of deus-ex-immunologica, if you will...
Just time for a quick post here, but the company recently (last week) stated that the outlook re: immune checkpoint regulators, CGEN-15001T and CGEN-15022 (the Bayer Collaboration) and CGEN-15029 (Compugen’s most advanced immune checkpoint regulator) remains unchanged since the most recent conference call. It is not surprising (given the slow progress over the past 3 years) that the company is currently valued at approximately the same market cap ($350 million) as when the Bayer deal was announced (August 2013). But any positive news going forward re: CGEN-15001T or CGEN-15029 will certainly have a sudden and significant effect on the stock price. Since, IMO (given the company’s most recent statement), the odds favor such news (on at least one immune checkpoint front) within the next year to year and a half, as I’ve said multiple times, under $7 per share represents an excellent buying opportunity for long-term investors.
Best to all, and especially DLP!
FWIW, Vernon Bernardino of FBR Capital reiterated his buy recommendation and $14 price target today. Here's some "color":
“Compugen discussed its 1Q16 financial results and provided updates of its research programs in a conference call on May 10. Compugen reiterated that its top research priority among its unpartnered programs remains CGEN-15029, a mAb (monoclonal antibody) candidate with an identified counterpart. Within the next several months, Compugen is planning to focus on completing all necessary preparations that will enable the filing of an IND (Investigational New Drug) application for CGEN-15029 in 2017, a goal that remains on target. In parallel, Compugen continues to explore opportunities from its pipeline of ADC (antibody drug conjugate) and autoimmune assets, with ongoing development of CGEN-15027 (ADC candidate) and CGEN-15001 (autoimmune candidate). We continue to look for Compugen’s first IND filing in 2017 to validate the company’s proprietary research platform and its computational discovery approach.”
“‘Certainly the odds favor significant commercial news by the end of 2017.’
Are we now pushing this out to 2017? If that's the case there is no rush to buy the stock and I would say sell in May and run away. I always feel that you are closer to the action then me so I hope that is an error.”
I am a “probabilities” person, meaning that I am unwilling to predict more specifically when the next commercial announcement will occur. Given the progress of both 15029 and 15001T, I AM willing to say, given everything we have been told, that the odds strongly favor at least one commercial announcement before the end of 2017 (18 months) and most likely, two. “Early deals ” concerning other candidates/checkpoints could come, of course, at any time, but even with the hiring of Sigal and Holtzman increasing the probabilities, IMO, their timing is impossible to predict, so I have left these out of my “equation,” at least for now. Could a commercial announcement occur significantly sooner and unexpectedly? Of course. But my nature and prior experience leave me unwilling to try and “time” such deals through sales and re-purchases of the stock
“Where are we going to get the funds?”
At this point, that is a question we can’t possibly answer because it all depends on the above and many other factors. But because of my optimism re: the above and the conservative way the company has always been run, I don’t lose any sleep over this question.
Furthermore,I remain very optimistic that over the next six months, even without a commercial announcement, the stock will begin to better reflect the significant progress and current 18-month potential of the company. That is why I “bought the dip” yesterday.
Hope this helps!
In general, I found both the text and the subtext of the conference call quite positive. When the Bayer deal was announced the stock had approximately the same market cap as it has today. Since then, the Bayer deal has advanced significantly, however slowly, and CGEN-10029 is approaching IND. When/if we get any commercial news on either front, the stock will move considerably higher than it is today. (This is, IMO, why the analysts have a 1-year price target of 11 [on average].) Certainly the odds favor significant commercial news by the end of 2017.
I have long maintained that under $7 is a bargain for long-term investors. Today, because of the above, I bought some more.
P.S. Echoing the positive nature of the call, I enjoyed hearing Martin Gerstel enthusiastically whisper to Anat, “Good answer” (I’m paraphrasing) in response to her reply to one of the questions…
Yes, the questioner said that he had heard that 15001T would likely reach IND in late 2016 or early 2017. Very exciting news that, of course, Compugen can't talk about...
The same point (in the first post on this thread) can be made re. Steven Holtzman's decision to join the Compugen team. When the founder and CEO of Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Chief Business Officer of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Founder and Executive Vice President of DNX Corp., and, most recently, Executive Vice President of Corporate Development of Biogen chooses (after due diligence) to join Compugen as a strategic business advisor, it reaffirms (at least, to me) the company's commercial potential. Given that CGEN-15022 is on the path to enter IND next year, a highly accomplished business advisor such as Holtzman--with many Big Pharma contacts--is a very welcome addition to the team.
Thanks, SJS! As I found out in our long chat at the Analyst/Investor meeting in New York, John Hunter is a terrific—trustworthy, honest, and human—spokesperson for the company. So glad he heads up the San Francisco unit...
From today's SEC filing: “Pursuant to an amendment to the agreement, CGEN-15022’s anti-cancer immune response continues to be evaluated under the joint preclinical research program.”
Obviously, while progress has been made, there are still questions to be answered re: CGEN-15022. Still, the important “take aways” for me are 1) the immune target/potential mAb’s continue to be jointly worked on by the two companies, and 2) progress with CGEN-15022, however slow, is still being made.
While this is a “minor” announcement, taking everything we have heard recently from management into account (including impressing the well-known, well-connected Dr. Sigal enough such that he would come onboard as Strategic Advisor), IMO, the long-term outlook for the company has never been brighter.
When the “best R & D chief in pharma” (Wall Street Journal, 2012) chooses to become Compugen’s Strategic Advisor, it sends an important message to those still uncertain about the company’s science and commercial potential. I’m sure Sigal, given his credentials, name, and contacts could have taken on this role for any of a 100 different small pharma companies. Yet he chose Compugen. The same point can be made concerning Pardoll assuming the additional role of Director. These two leaders in the field—and previously, company outsiders—obviously believe very strongly in the future of Compugen.
From The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center web site:
"...Through collaborations with other research programs, investigators have developed novel approaches leading to new ways to manage breast, prostate, cervical, gastrointestinal, and other cancers. Cancer Immunology Program leader is Drew Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D."
Anything that helps the Kimmel Cancer Center in the area of cancer immunotherapy is certainly good news for Compugen.