Gene-therapy company Genprex Inc (NASDAQ:GNPX) reported progress working with contract science organization Aldevron LLC to continue clinical trials of immunogene therapy Oncoprex, its promising treatment for non-small cell lung cancer.
Aldevron specializes in the production of antibodies, proteins, plasmids, and genomic DNA products. Genprex said it's agreement with Aldevron to supply TUSC2 (Tumor Suppressor Candidate 2) plasmid DNA for use in Genprex’s clinical development program was working out well.
Shares of the Austin, Texas-based biotech initially shot up more than 5% to $1.38 in morning trade.
“We are confident in our choice of Aldevron as a plasmid manufacturing partner and look forward to working with them to continue our clinical trials of our immunogene therapy Oncoprex for the treatment on non-small cell lung cancer,” said Julien Pham, chief operating officer of Genprex.
BIG PICTURE: How Genprex took an abandoned pipeline drug and turned it into Oncoprex, an innovative treatment for non-small cell lung cancer
Research has demonstrated that TUSC2 is a powerful tumor suppressor gene and has fewer side effects with less toxicity than other lung cancer drugs and can be administered systemically to cancer patients.
Oncoprex is basically the TUSC2 gene wrapped in a cholesterol nanoparticle that is engineered to target cancer cells.
“Over the past quarter, we have taken steps to advance our clinical development activities. We extended our ability to strengthen our patent protection for our TUSC2 gene platform, expanded our collaborations and augmented our team,” said Genprex CEO Rodney Varner in a statement.
Genprex recently announced the appointment of Jan Stevens as its vice president of clinical operations. Stevens will focus on the expansion of Genprex’s Oncoprex and Tarceva combination trial across multiple sites in the US.
Oncoprex is currently being evaluated in clinical studies at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.
During the third quarter, Genprex said it entered into amendments with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to “extend the terms of two option agreements between Genprex and MD Anderson” pertaining to the use of TUSC2, the active agent in Genprex’s lead product candidate Oncoprex, in combination with immunotherapies and the development and the use of biomarkers to predict patient response to TUSC2 therapy.
Strong cash position to fund trials
For the quarter ended June 30, Genprex’s R&D expense came to $489,689 compared with $55,517 for the same period a year ago. In a positive sign, the increase was driven entirely by advances in commercialization and research-related activities associated with the development of Oncoprex.
The company's balance sheet points to swift progress in Phase 1/2 clinical trials at MD Anderson.
In another good sign for investors, the clinical-stage biotech has enough cash, nearly $10.3 million, in its kitty as of September 30 to round out clinical trials.
Contact Uttara Choudhury at [email protected]