Healthcare Business

Why Genocea's Neoantigen Treatment Is Such a Big Hit at ASCO

Genocea Biosciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GNCA) is one of the big winners from the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The firm announced best-in-class clinical results from its ongoing Phase 1/2a trial for GEN-009, the company’s lead neoantigen vaccine candidate.

The treatment uses antigens that correspond to tumor mutations that a patient’s immune system sees as foreign to the body. At a very basic level, this treatment works to prime the immune system to find and kill tumors.

In this study of five patients for whom immune response results are available to date, GEN-009 monotherapy elicited T cell responses to 91% of the vaccine neoantigens administered.

Also, GEN-009 was proven to be unique among neoantigen vaccines in its ability to elicit ex vivo CD8+ T cell responses, which were observed for 47% of vaccine neoantigens. Inclusive of the results seen after in vitro stimulation, the CD8+ T cell response frequency was 53%.

At the same time, GEN-009 was well tolerated to date, with no dose-limiting toxicities.

Chip Clark, Genocea’s president and chief executive, commented:

These data clearly differentiate ATLAS, our neoantigen discovery platform, from first-generation, machine-based approaches. As we continue to say, “targets matter,” and these data highlight the necessity of selecting the right neoantigens to drive immune responses in cancer patients. We believe that ATLAS holds the potential to benefit the clinical efficacy of both GEN-009 and GEN-011, our neoantigen-specific T cell therapy program, and to enable additional immunotherapy modalities.

Shares of Genocea were up about 58% at $8.85 Monday morning, in a 52-week range of $2.24 to $11.28. The consensus price target is $3.58.