|Quiet biotech gains traction after cancer vaccine draws national media coverage ahead of upcoming ASCO meeting|
|By Josh Gee|
|Wednesday, 20 May 2015 00:20|
Shares of TapImmune Inc. (otcqb:TPIV), a tiny publicly traded biotech, are breaking out as microcap investors are seeing the firm as holding the key to a major breakthrough. Even as share prices have more than doubled since early May, the company still presents an inexplicably minuscule market cap compared to its peers.
Developers like Advaxis, OncoSec Medical and Juno Therapeutics hold valuations which trade at many multiples higher, but TapImmune holds the exclusive option on a Mayo Clinic technology that could propel this biotech company into the big leagues, particularly as data from medical trials begins to emerge.
In a recent USA today article and TV interview, internationally renowned Mayo researcher Dr. Edith Perez explained how she has changed her mind about vaccines and how she hopes that this particular vaccine is a game changer for women with the disease. She said a major breakthrough could be coming for patients who suffer from TNBC in the form of a vaccine to prevent the recurrence of the disease.
Industry observers note that Dr. Perez did much of the clinical work on the $7 Billion a year Drug Herceptin (Roche/Genetech).
"Can we do something else to essentially wake up the immune system so that the patient's own body fights any cancer cells remaining after standard chemotherapy treatment?" asked Dr. Edith Perez, lead researcher on the project at Mayo Clinic. See the USA Today article here: http://tinyurl.com/k27hlay.
The USA today piece was picked up from NBC affiliate First Coast News in Jacksonville FL where Dr. Perez is working (at the Mayo Clinic), There, Perez has close professional relationship with a local TV anchor and 3 time TNBC survivor, Donna Deegan. Deegan, a WTLV- and WJXX-TV news anchor was diagnosed with the cancer at age 38 and got to know Dr. Perez though her ordeal.
"For women with triple negative breast cancer, if this works, it could be a game changer," Deegan said.
Perez said that in the past, she was not optimistic about the chances for success of a breast cancer vaccine. However, that has now changed.
"Over the last year we spent quite a bit of time evaluating a protein that is called the folate receptor alpha protein. We studied it in a variety of tumor types here in the laboratory at Mayo and we identified that in approximately 80% of the cases of triple negative breast cancer, this protein was over-expressed." said Dr. Perez.
Perez is one of the top breast cancer researchers in the world. She teamed with immunologist Dr. Keith Knutson to develop the vaccine. Knutson's research has worked on treatments for both ovarian and breast cancer.
Watch Donna talk about her hard fought battle and her '26.2 with Donna - Breast Cancer Marathon' that initially funded some of the work at the Mayo: http://tinyurl.com/km8wljk.
Recently, on NBCs daytime live coverage of The Players Championship, anchor and very well-known TV personality Jimmy Roberts did an editorial piece featuring Donna, her battle and her amazing work raising awareness and money to fight the disease. In the well told story Jimmy also talks to Dr. Perez about the vaccine and her thoughts on the countless lives it could save. The story and video can also be seen here https://vimeo.com/127435027.
In January TapImmune (TPIV) announced very encouraging preliminary results of the Phase 1 Clinical trials conducted at Mayo. The vaccine was very well tolerated and safe and showed an increased and specific T-cell (the cells responsible for killing cancer cells) immune responses in almost all of the evaluated patients (20 of 21). Newer data from the company's recent presentations now also confirm that of the 16 patients in 'long term' follow up, all 16 still show heightened immune responses. This could mean this is a long lasting vaccine to protect women from recurrence or metastatic disease. How long yet is not known, but this is a very important development.
TNBC comprise approximately 15-20% of all breast cancer patients. As there are approximately 40,000 new diagnoses a year and many hundreds of thousands of untreated patients at high risk of recurrence. The target for this vaccine is also not limited to TNBC but could also be used for other indications like ovarian cancer- another killer and a type of cancer for which there are no viable treatments for after surgery and chemo.
This vaccine provides hope to those many hundreds of thousands of patients anxiously waiting for a treatment to prevent those recurrences and for TapImmune as a company, a multi-billion dollar market opportunity. These indications and lack of available therapeutics make these drugs ideal candidates for fast track and Orphan Drug designation from the FDA and we understand that the company will be making those applications to the FDA in its filings this year as it moves to the next phase of development.
Investors who wish to support Donna Deegan and her extensive efforts to tell the story of hope for these and many other cancer patients and hope these efforts and those of others in the field truly do 'change the game.'
Please visit breastcancermarathon.com and donnahickenfoundation for more on Donna's excellent work raising money and awareness for research and care.
More information on TapImmune can be found on their website www.tapimmune.com.