Juno Therapeutics, the Seattle-based biotech company developing immunotherapy cancer treatments, unveiled promising new data from a study on its flagship cancer drug Wednesday. The company also beat analyst expectations with third-quarter revenue of $44.8 million, compared to expected revenue of just $16 million.
In a press release, the company credited that leap in revenue to a sublicense agreement with Switzerland-based biomedical giant Novartis, which was originally made in 2015.
The company also beat expectations on its loss per share: It posted a loss of $0.73 per share, as opposed to an expected loss of $0.79.
On the clinical front, Wednesday’s data is an early vindication for Juno. The promising results give the company a boost as it doubles down on its R&D efforts after pulling its most advanced drug candidate earlier this year.
In the study, nearly three-fourths of patients who were treated with a high dose of cancer drug JCAR017 were cancer-free after three months. At the lower dose rate, one-third of patients were cancer-free after three months.
JCAR017 is a type of CAR T immunotherapy, which genetically engineers a patient’s immune system to fight cancer. It’s currently being studied as a treatment for blood cancers and is being tested on patients who have advanced cancer that has resisted other treatment options.
The dire circumstances of many patients participating in the trial makes the drug’s 73 percent remission rate even more surprising.
Perhaps more noticeably, the study also found no sign that a higher dose level meant a higher risk of negative side effects. Toxic side effects caused the deaths of five patients in a clinical trial of JCAR015, Juno’s most advanced drug candidate, which the company scrapped earlier this year.
That put Juno behind in the race to have the first CAR T immunotherapy on the market. Novartis won that race in August when its drug Kymriah was approved. Kymriah treats young adults with a severe form of Leukemia.
Since then, the FDA has approved a second CAR T immunotherapy developed by biotech company Kite Pharma, which announced a deal to be acquired by Gilead Sciences shortly before the approval.
Although they are promising, the results Juno reported Wednesday are still early — JCAR017 is in the first of three mandatory clinical trial phases before it can be submitted for approval to the FDA.
Juno’s shares, which rose more than 7 percent in advance of the earnings report, are up slightly in after-hours trading to 48.31 per share.