Immunotherapy company Argos Therapeutics plans to start enrolling patients in a phase 3 kidney cancer trial for its lead candidate in the fourth quarter.
But first, Argos needs money. The company has just over $3 million in cash on hand, according to securities documents. The Durham, North Carolina company on July 29 filed plans to raise $86.2 million in an initial public stock offering. No pricing terms were disclosed. Argos has applied to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker “ARGS.”
Argos’s platform technology, called Arcelis, aims to become the latest medical breakthrough in personalized medicine. The technology activates a patient-specific immune response by working with cells obtained from each patient.
Proceeds from the stock offering will be used to finance trials that will test lead product candidate AGS-003 in combination with Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) drug sunitinib, which is already used in treating kidney cancer patients. AGS-003 is being studied as a treatment for renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer. The goal of the clinical trial is to see if AGS-003, in combination with the Pfizer drug, can work even better with a personalized medicine technology. It could be the first kidney cancer therapy that generates a patient-specific immune system response.
Only one active immunotherapy has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to date — Provenge, Dendreon‘s (NASDAQ:DNDN) prostate cancer treatment. If AGS-003 secures FDA approval, Argos will need even more money. A manufacturing facility is projected to cost about $25 million. The company will also need money to develop other candidates in its pipeline. Here’s what else Argos is targeting:
AIDS/HIV: Candidate AGS-004 is currently in phase 2b trials funded entirely by the National Institutes of Health. The company expects to complete enrollment in the trial in the fourth quarter. Further development would need additional funding, either from the government or some other party. The work so far has been funded by a $32 million NIH contract.
Lupus: Argos this month completed enrollment in a phase 1a trial of AGS-009, a monoclonol antibody for treating lupus. A phase 1b trial is planned to start enrollment in the fourth quarter, depending on results of the earlier trial. Argos plans to seek a partner to finance this trial and for further development and commercialization of AGS-009. But Argos said in securities filings that it would start the trial even if it has not secured a partner at the time the trial is scheduled to begin.
Psoriasis and organ transplants: AGS-010, a biologic compound, is in preclinical testing for the treatment of psoriasis and also for organ transplantation. The drug candidate comes from Argos’s research efforts in turning off ”undesirable immune responses,” such as organ transplant rejection and autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Argos plans to seek a partner to develop and commercialize AGS-010.