Agenus Inc.'s (AGEN:NASDAQ) pipeline drugs botensilimab and balstilimab, as a combination treatment, continue to show responses in patients with platinum-resistant or -refractory ovarian cancer, reported H.C. Wainwright & Co. analyst Emily Bodnar in a March 27 research note.
This was the takeaway from Agenus' presentation of new trial data at the recent Society of Gynecologic Oncology meeting.
Compelling Possible Gains
Massachusetts-based Agenus is currently trading at about US$1.49 per share, and H.C. Wainwright's target price on it is much higher, at US$8 per share, Bodnar noted.
This price difference implies a significant potential return of about 437%. The pharma is a Buy.
Positive Efficacy Data
The study data Agenus just presented were for 24 evaluable patients in its Phase 1b expansion trial. Most, or 71%, of these patients, received 2 milligrams per kilogram (2 mg/kg) of botensilimab Q6W, Bodnar explained. The other 29% got 1 mg/kg botensilimab Q6W in combination with 3 mg/kg balstilimab Q2W.
The overall response rate was 33% and included one complete response and seven partial responses. The overall disease control rate was 67%.
"Approximately eight patients were on treatment for at least six months, demonstrating positive durability," Bodnar added.
The analyst pointed out that when Agenus reported data from the Phase 1 last year, the overall response rate was 26% in 19 patients. This means five additional patients got treated, and two of them experienced a partial response.
"[The] response rate increasing with additional patients treated is a highly positive indication of efficacy," wrote Bodnar.
Comparison to Standard of Care
Given the efficacy data, Bodnar highlighted, botensilimab + balstilimab combination treatment is "potentially favorable" over the standard of care in platinum-resistant and -refractory ovarian cancer patients, which is chemotherapy.
Historical studies of single-agent chemotherapy in these patients, she went on, showed about a 20% overall response rate. Combination chemotherapy regimens demonstrated overall response rates up to 53%; however, the trials included much fewer heavily pretreated patients and included platinum-sensitive patients who are easier to treat.
Based on a comparison of these data sets, "botensilimab + balstilimab appears superior to single-agent chemotherapy," concluded Bodnar.
Consistent Safety Profile
In its presentation, Agenus noted the safety profile of botensilimab + balstilimab in the expansion cohort was in line with its previously reported data, reported Bodnar.
The new results showed the most common treatment-related adverse event was immune-mediated diarrhea/colitis, occurring in 46% of patients. The worst cases of this were grade three. Other adverse events patients experienced were nausea, vomiting, fatigue, rash, itchiness, increased body temperature, and joint pain.
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Disclosures for H.C. Wainwright & Co., Agenus Inc., March 27, 2023
H.C. Wainwright & Co, LLC (the “Firm”) is a member of FINRA and SIPC and a registered U.S. Broker-Dealer.
I, Emily Bodnar , certify that 1) all of the views expressed in this report accurately reflect my personal views about any and all subject securities or issuers discussed; and 2) no part of my compensation was, is, or will be directly or indirectly related to the
specific recommendation or views expressed in this research report; and 3) neither myself nor any members of my household is an officer, director or advisory board member of these companies.
None of the research analysts or the research analyst’s household has a financial interest in the securities of Agenus Inc. (including, without limitation, any option, right, warrant, future, long or short position). As of February 28, 2023 neither the Firm nor its affiliates beneficially own 1% or more of any class of common equity securities of Agenus Inc..
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The research analyst principally responsible for preparation of the report does not receive compensation that is based upon any specific investment banking services or transaction but is compensated based on factors including total revenue and profitability of the Firm, a substantial portion of which is derived from investment banking services.
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