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Iovance Issues Cancer Trial Updates Ahead Of ASCO Meeting, Sending Stock Skyward

Shanthi Rexaline

Shares of small-cap biotech Iovance Biotherapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: IOVA) were making a strong upward move Thursday on more than 10 times their average volume. 

Iovance announced multiple updates in conjunction with online abstracts made available ahead of presentations at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology, or ASCO, annual meeting May 31-June 4, in Chicago.

Cervical Cancer Candidate Outshines Keytruda

Iovance released new interim data from clinical studies of its tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte, or TIL, therapy LN-145 in patients with advanced cervical cancer. The company reported an objective response rate, or ORR, of 44 percent, and a disease control rate of 89 percent. Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK)'s Keytruda, which was used as a reference, showed a 14-percent ORR.

TIL is a type of adoptive cell therapy in which the tumor-fighting T-cells are extracted from the patient's body, multiplied outside and reintroduced into the body to fight the tumor.

The mean patient age was 47 and study participants had undergone a mean of 2.6 prior lines of therapy.

"The interim data from LN-145 present compelling evidence that TIL therapy, provided as a single administration, could improve upon current treatments," Amir Jazaeri, a study investigator, said in a statement. 

Melanoma Therapy Holds Up In Heavily Pretreated Population

Updated results from Cohort 2 in the ongoing innovaTIL-01 study of lifileucel in advanced melanoma showed an ORR of 38 percent and a disease control rate of 76 percent in 55 consecutively dosed post-PD-1 patients, Iovance said. 

The patients were heavily pretreated, with a mean of 3.1 lines of prior therapy, including anti-PD-1, and had a high baseline tumor burden.

"At 7.4-month median follow-up, responses were maintained in the majority of patients," the company said.

First Patient Dosed In Midstage Melanoma Trial

Iovance also said the first melanoma patient in the Phase 2 IOV-COM-202 study has been dosed — the first instance of a patient naïve to checkpoint inhibitor treatment receiving the company's TIL therapy in combination with Keytruda.

The company also said it has entered into a collaboration with Genocea Biosciences Inc (NASDAQ: GNCA) to evaluate its ATLAS platform.

At last check, Iovance shares were jumping 30.72 percent to $14.68. 

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