Northwest Biotherapeutics' news is significant in several ways Print E-mail
By M.E.Garza   
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 09:46
NWBOThose paying close attention to this morning’s announcement from Northwest Biotherapeutics (OTCBB: NWBO) that they are partnering with Fraunhofer, the largest applied
research foundation in Europe, for production of their DCVax®-L for brain cancer, for clinical trials and for compassionate use cases in Europe is quite significant in several ways.
As we told our readers weeks ago, NWBO has been quietly positioning itself for some big moves. In recent months, the company has been busy resuming enrollment and adding more locations to their key clinical trials for Glioblastoma multiforme (“GBM”) brain cancer, they’ve been quietly cleaning up corporate debt, and they’ve been talking to several potential partners about their DCVax® platform technology that can be applied to multiple cancers.

It appears today’s news may be the first of several developments which could position the Bethesda, MD  based company ahead of other emerging cancer immunotherapy players.  

“After intensive effort for more than a year, we are excited about completing this first step in our broader European strategy, and gratified that such a distinguished and influential institution as Fraunhofer has chosen to be our partner,” explained Linda Powers, Chairman of the Board of Northwest Biotherapeutics.

We knew that the company had something significant going on in Europe- the 2nd largest market for medical products in the world- but we didn’t realize they had been working for a full year to reach this point in building the foundation for their European program. They deserve kudos for this given that not even Dendreon Corporation (Nasdaq: DNDN ) had anything cooking in Europe at any time during their clinical trials.

In fact, partnering with Fraunhofer in Germany appears to have given Northwest Biotherapeutics most of the benefits of a big pharma deal, without the downsides.  

Despite what anyone might say to the contrary, this morning’s news constitutes validation of NWBO’s DCVax® platform by a very large, respected and leading health organization. The fact that it took a year to land this partnership tells us what most Europeans already know: Fraunhofer  is highly selective in who they partner with,  let alone who would dedicate their state-of-the-art facilities to. Northwest Biotherapeutics has just been given terrific access and clout in Europe, both with regulators and with medical centers.

I would imagine that this development also substantially expands NWBO’s manufacturing capacity; which continues to be one of  Dendreon’s costly deficiencies; and it increases the pace of enrollment in their ongoing trials. We note that Fraunhofer’s reach is vast and that their contractual partners benefit from over 80 research units, including 60 institutes at different locations in Germany.  Having clinical trial data generated in Europe by European doctors, patients and clinicians will undoubtedly help the company when it comes time to seek approvals across the pond.

The Fraunhofer partnership also opens the door for Northwest to be eligible for million of euros worth of grants from the German government, but it doesn’t give away shareholder’s value in the brain cancer program- which is what each of the large pharmaceutical firms who have spoken to the company in the past have reportedly pressed them for during negotiations and discussions about a presence abroad.

From a market standpoint, the stock continues to appear undervalued; especially given the hints that this is only “this first step in a broader European strategy." 

As we pointed out recently, the news and scientific data involving NWBO’s dendritic cell vaccine platform has been flying just under the radar, but it certainly won’t be long now before more news outlets and investors find the peer-reviewed publications and research that clearly show striking extension of survival for cancer patients who were administered this ground-breaking treatment during clinical trials.

Disclosure: None

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