By Christian Zeron,
Money and Investing Writer
Argos Therapeutics has raised $17.5 million in investments, reaching $60 million in total, to get its most promising treatment through Phase III clinical trials.
Argos Therapeutics is a North Carolina based personalized immunotherapy company with three prospective treatments in its clinical pipeline. These three treatments, in status descending order, are AGS-003, AGS-004 and AGS-009.
Argos first received attention in 2010 when Dendreon (NASDAQ:DNDN) broke a barrier in the oncology world with the FDA approval of its therapeutic vaccine, Provenge. Dendreon’s approval metaphorically paved the way for other therapeutic pharmaceutical companies, such as Argos. In fact, Argos CEO Jeffrey Abbey stated the approval of Provenge “validates the field.”
In an industry as vast as medicine, with millions of treatments and technologies, one major breakthrough can change the fate of an entire field of companies. In this case, Dendreon opened the door of success for hundreds of therapeutic companies, especially Argos.
AGS-003, or Arcelis, is a therapeutic molecule that targets Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma, a cancer that develops in one’s kidney. On November 20, 2013, Argos announced its receiving of $17.4 million in investments that would support the company through Arcelis’ Phase III clinical trial. Arcelis, establishing safety in Phase I and efficacy in Phase II, was moved into Phase III clinical testing in January of 2013.
The formulation of Arcelis is quite unique. In fact, it is comparable to Dendreon’s Provenge treatment in that it collects a given patient’s own dendritic cells to fight the cancer’s development. Unlike Provenge, Arcelis utilized sampled RNA to load cells with tumor-specific antigens. The technology Argos developed in Arcelis is groundbreaking. It is being closely watched by all competitors as its progression through trials is a great threat.
Pipeline therapies are studied by not only those performing the clinical trials, but those looking to invest in a given company’s technology. The further the treatment progresses in the clinical trials, the more likely it is to then be approved by the FDA and thus hit the market and turn profit.
Argos’ second treatment is called AGS-004. It is defined as an immunotherapy technology and its efficacy is being tried in targeting Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
Argos’ final and least developed treatment, AGS-009, is formally labeled as an anti-Interferon-alpha monoclonal antibody whose indication is Lupus. AGS-009 is currently undergoing Phase I clinical trials.
Considering AGS-003, ASG-004 and AGS-009, Argos Therapeutics has interests in three entirely different fields. An investor can perceive such reach in two ways. The first perception being that the company is confident in its technology and has the potential to break through and succeed in three separate fields.
The other possible perspective is one of indecisiveness. Assuming the responsibility of managing three unrelated products in three unrelated fields requires extraordinary amounts of man power and focus, which increases the odds of failure. In situations like these, management is often analyzed to determine the future success of the company. It is safe to say that as long as Argos’ leadership is far from that of Dendreon’s, investors are in good hands.
With only a pipeline, it is too early to accurately predict the future; but Argos Therapeutics has the potential to redeem the personalized immunotherapy field after the disaster that was Dendreon.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Nov. 26 print edition.
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