Argos Therapeutics Refuels With $17.4M To Wrap Up Phase III

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.

Contact Christian at
christian.zeron@student.shu.edu

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