Juno shares dive as clinical test halted after 2 deaths

Juno's stocks fell by 27% in after-hours trading. Yes, the driver behind the hold is tragic, but there has never been a better opportunity to pick up an exposure to either Juno or CART.

The patients were enrolled in a trial testing a therapy called JCAR015, which is aimed at treating relapsed or refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in adults.

Michel Sadelain, the scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY who originally developed the t cell treatment being tested by Juno, says he only learned of the deaths this week.

There are dozens of approaches to immuno-oncology, created to attack various cancer-related targets and work in concert with existing drugs. The goal: To wipe out the patient's existing immune cells, so that the genetically engineered immune cells can do their job with minimal interference.

Two leukemia patients involved in the trial died last week, while a third passed away in May.

Now, this is the important part. The three fatalities all came from the double-chemo group, Juno said. Scientists proposing what could be the first human study using CRISPR to treat a disease also plan to use fludarabine to pretreat patients before administering a CAR-T therapy of their own.

The two deaths happened after Juno added fludarabine, a chemotherapy drug, to the treatment patients received before going through the gene engineering process.

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Patients receiving CAR-T therapies typically receive doses of chemotherapy beforehand, meant to make the tumor more vulnerable to the CAR-T cell.

Clinical trials of a promising new therapy, in which white blood cells are reprogrammed to attack cancer cells, has resulted in the deaths of three patients. Two of the deaths occurred within the past week, leading to the halt.

Juno is expected to submit these revised documents this week.

According to commentators, the development comes as a setback to one of the most exciting pursuits in oncology. More importantly, it seems to relate to a combination that can easily be avoided on commercialization with some relatively non restrictive labeling.

Pomerantz LLP is investigating claims on behalf of investors of Juno Therapeutics Inc. In fact, investigation into fludarabine was almost halted altogether for patients with leukemia, following the development of delayed central nervous system toxicity. With this in mind, we could be seeing a trial continuation before the middle of August.

Shares were trading 29% lower at US$29 Shortly after United States trading got underway. A quarter off voucher, if you will. "We have seen encouraging safety and efficacy results with JCAR017 and JCAR014 in adult ALL, [chronic lymphocytic leukemia, CLL], and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) patients, with as much as 70% complete response rate", he said.

  • Ismael Montgomery