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Will Crispr Stock — And Its Cancer Drug — Rise After Allogene’s Fall?

Crispr Therapeutics (CRSP) said Tuesday it’s planning to begin a pivotal study of its gene-edited cancer drug following promising Phase 1 test results. But CRSP stock toppled late Tuesday.




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The biotech company reported the results for 26 lymphoma patients who received its drug, dubbed CTX110, for at least 28 days. Overall, 58% of patients responded to the treatment. More than a third — 38% — had a complete response. That means they had no detectable signs of cancer.

During the regular session on the stock market today, CRSP stock popped 1.9% to 102.59. But the stock gave that back and then some after hours, falling 5.5% near 97.

CRSP Stock: Gene-Edited Drug Shows Promise

The experimental drug aims to teach the immune system to find camouflaged cancer cells.

Others in this so-called CAR-T class include drugs from Gilead Sciences (GILD) and Novartis (NVS). Those use the sick patient’s own white blood cells. The cells are removed, trained to root out and destroy the cancer, and then reintroduced to the patient.

But Crispr is using donor cells. It applies its gene-editing technology — also called CRISPR — to the cells before infusing them into the patient. This “off-the-shelf” could be easier and quicker to mass produce, and less costly for both the company and the patients. But the results didn’t invigorate CRSP stock.

“We are excited to share positive data from our (study called Carbon), which show that CTX110 could offer patients with large B-cell cell lymphomas an immediately available ‘off-the-shelf’ therapy with efficacy similar to autologous (patient-derived) CAR-T and a differentiated safety profile,” Crispr Chief Executive Samarth Kulkarni said in a written statement.

Rivaling Autologous CAR-T

Crispr studied its drug in patients with a blood cancer known as large B-cell lymphoma. The patients either relapsed following a prior treatment, or didn’t respond to another drug.

In the same population, 72% of patients responded to Gilead’s CAR-T drug, Yescarta, in the study on which its approval is based. Half of patients responded to Novartis’ rival drug, Kymriah.

Crispr’s drug appears relatively safe. A notable side effect of CAR-T drugs is a condition known as cytokine release syndrome. But there were no serious cases of the syndrome in Crispr’s test. The prescribing labels for Yescarta and Kymriah both warn against the syndrome.

Following the results, Crispr is planning to expand the study in the first quarter of 2022. The company hopes the study could offer enough evidence for approval.

Allogene Remains Under Pressure

The results come at a pivotal time for the field. Last week, Allogene (ALLO) stock collapsed after the Food and Drug Administration placed its CAR-T study on hold, citing safety issues.

Allogene uses several different technologies to create its “off-the-shelf” CAR-T. It uses a gene-editing method called TALENS and a non-harmful lentivirus to deliver the drug. Crispr’s CTX110 relies on CRISPR technology for both the editing and drug delivery.

Still, CRSP stock fell more than 4% the following the day.

Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.

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