Tocagen’s shares crash as brain cancer treatment fails at its late-stage testing

Tocagen Inc.’s stocks dropped almost 80 percent after failing to extend the lives of brain cancer patients in a research, the latest in a series of setbacks for patients awaiting different therapy choices for the disorder.

The news comes a week after Bristol-Myers Squibb Co said that its blockbuster cancer immunotherapy, Opdivo, failed a late-stage trial testing it in patients with glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer that killed U.S. Senator John McCain.

“This has been a really difficult place to develop drugs,” SVB analyst Leerink Daina Graybosch said that, of all cancers, brain cancer has one of the greatest unmet patient needs.

Tocagen said that its lead product candidate, Toca 511 & Toca FC, did not demonstrate significant secondary goal superiority relative to the standard of care treatment in the trial, which assessed therapy in patients with recurrent high-grade glioma (RHGG).

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The findings have quashed any hopes for even a near-miss in the trial that might have justified regulatory review in view of RHGG’s unmet need, Baird analyst Madhu Kumar said.

Additional information from the trial will be provided at a forthcoming medical conference, which analysts say will probably determine the future of Tocagen’s plans for another program testing the treatment for newly diagnosed brain cancer.

Toca 511 & Toca FC is also being evaluated in bladder cancer, a cancer-selective therapy that prevents blood cells from the prevalent side impacts associated with chemotherapy.

The firm said it is planning to perform an operational evaluation to assess the progress of its pipeline policy.

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As of June-end, the California-based firm had $68.3 million in cash.

“We have capital that will take us well into 2020 as we continue our correspondence with the regulatory agencies,” Tocagen’s Chief Executive Officer Marty Duvall told Reuters.

The company’s shares plummeted 79.2% to 87 cents.

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