Shares in Juno Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:JUNO) are trading sharply lower today, down by over 24% to $22.56 in today’s main session, while already having fallen by another 18.57% to $18.37 in the after-hours session. The losses represent a decline in market value of over $1.5 billion today.
What The….Happened To Juno
Early Wednesday, JUNO announced that there were serious and concerning complications with its phase II trial of JCAR015. Additionally, JUNO has placed a voluntary hold on the trial after two patients suffered cerebral edema earlier in the week and died. This brings the death toll for this trial to five.
The JCAR015 drug is a cancer-fighting compound designed to use a patient’s own immune system to fight the disease. With the two recent deaths, the question stands as to whether the drug has shown enough promise, especially compared against the safety data, to expect a return to the trial any time soon.
Three patients died from side effects of the same drug in July. With five patients now deceased from apparent JCAR015 side effects, JUNO has contacted both the FDA and the Data Safety and Monitoring Board to determine how to move forward. The news today comes after the FDA allowed JUNO to resume the trials back in July, after the three original deaths.
JUNO is trading at its 52-week low now and is now miles beneath its 52-week high of $52.41 per share. The news today is a devastating blow to investors as well as to patients that were relying on a new platform to emerge to treat cancer.
Juno Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:JUNO) is exploring the benefits of utilizing a CAR-T platform, which takes the patient’s own T-cells and genetically engineers them to recognize and combat disease. With five deaths and a second hold being placed on the trial, JUNO is at a crossroads.
Is the science behind their CAR-T program at fault or is the science, in general, the culprit? CAR-T has been demonstrating high hopes for providing therapeutic treatment and potential cure, and several companies are delivering meaningful results. Therefore, while Juno Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:JUNO) may be suffering a huge setback in their CAR-T trials, the science is advancing without the same concerns by other developers.
For JUNO investors, this news is staggering. Whether or not JUNO can respond to the setback remains to be seen and investors should pay close attention to the company’s comments regarding the trial and its future, especially if those comments call into question the CAR-T program at the company.
Disclosure: I have no position in any stock mentioned and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
I wrote this article myself and it includes my own research and expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from CNA Finance). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
About the Author:
Kenny Soulstring is an entrepreneurial visionary with a thirty year history developing and operating small to mid sized businesses. His experience in building a brand led to his interest in investing in small and emerging companies, and for the prior twenty years, his investments allow him to take part in new ventures without undertaking all of the legwork. Focused on finding compelling opportunities in the small cap sector, Soulstring enjoys the art of the build, watching a company develop from concept to maturity. His frequent contact with company management allows him to offer timely and relevant information, working to keep news fresh with a spicy commentary to match. Soulstring was raised in Miami Beach, Florida and plans to retire there when his hair turns fully gray.
Note: This article is written by Kenny Soulstring and was originally published at CNA Finance.