Isis Means Business With This New Treatment

For cancer patients whose disease has resisted multiple therapies and have no other chemotherapeutic options available, Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ISIS) has developed an alternative treatment.

The pharmaceutical company announced at the Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Society in Boston that the preliminary data from an early-stage study of ISIS-STAT3 showed clear responses in patients with advanced cancer who did not respond to chemotherapy treatment. STAT3 was developed to inhibit the production of a protein critical for tumor cell growth and survival, the company said in a statement.

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Based on these positive results, Isis has initiated a mid-stage study. “The promising data generated in our Phase 1 study has enabled us to accelerate our development plans and move into a Phase 2 study earlier than originally anticipated,” said Isis’s senior vice president of antisense drug discovery Brett Monia, Ph.D.

“Patients with advanced cancer have often failed multiple therapies and have no other chemotherapeutic options,” said David S. Hong, M.D., an associate professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. “The early data on ISIS-STAT3 is impressive because it suggests that this drug can produce responses in patients with advanced cancer who have failed to respond to other therapies.”

The phase 1 study evaluated the treatment in patients with solid tumors and lymphoma who have relapsed or did not respond to chemotherapy. In comparison, the second study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of the treatment. The study’s endpoints include measurements of anti-tumor activity and STAT3 protein levels in tumor biopsies.

For Isis Pharmaceuticals, further successful trials of STAT3 will provide the company with an opportunity to expand its product pipeline. It is the first drug developed by the company to utilize its second-generation chemistry, which allows for increased drug potency at lower active doses and decreases the overall cost of therapy. Isis currently has 25 treatments in its drug pipeline.

While the company’s stock has fallen 27 percentin the past three months, Zacks upgraded shares of Isis Pharmaceuticals from a neutral rating to an outperform rating on Tuesday with a price target of $11. Zacks’ analyst wrote “We believe that antisense technology (the main area of focus at Isis) represents an exciting and potentially revolutionary platform for developing therapeutic candidates to treat a wide margin of diseases.” Shares closed at $8.90 on Friday.

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